Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hillforest Historic Mansion - Aurora Indiana



Hillforest Historic Mansion
Hillforest Historic Mansion



A Visit to Aurora and Lawrenceburg, Indiana
A Visit to Aurora and Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Hillforest Historic Mansion

Hillforest sits on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River. Designed by architect Isaiah Rogers and constructed by industrialist and financier Thomas Gaff in 1855, Hillforest Mansion sits astride a hill that affords a majestic view of the Ohio River.
Thomas Gaff (July 8, 1808 - April 25, 1884)

The son of James and Margaret Wilson Gaff, Thomas was native to Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, a paper maker, moved the family to Springfield, New Jersey. Gaff received his education in private schools and learned papermaking from his father. An uncle, Charles Wilson, taught him the distilling business. Thomas and his brother James founded a distillery in Philadelphia. In 1843, the brothers moved their operation to Aurora, Indiana. Their distillery, called the T & J.W. Gaff & Company Distillery, produced bourbon, rye, and Thistle Dew Scotch whiskey. The business thrived and their business empire expanded to include the Crescent Brewing Company, a Nevada silver mine, farming operations and many others. The Gaffs also owned a fleet of steamboats that they used to transport their various products on the rivers.

Isaiah Rogers (August 17, 1800 – April 13, 1869)
The son of Isaac and Hannah Ford Rogers, Isaiah was native to Marshfield, Massachusetts. A student of famed Massachusetts architect Solomon Willard, Isaiah became a leading architect in the United States. He designed structures in Mobile, Alabama, Boston, New York City, Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio. His designs included Boston's Tremont House, New York's Astor House and the Burnett House in Cincinnati.

Hillforest Historic Mansion
Situated on ten acres of land overlooking the Ohio River, Gaff lived in the home until his death in 1884. The Gaff family retained ownership of the home until furniture manufacturer Will Stark purchased the home in 1924. The local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars owned the home, using it as a meeting place, until a group of local citizens purchased the home in 1955. Organizing as the Hillforest Historical Foundation, the group restored the home and opened it for public tours in 1956. The National Historic Landmark Program listed it as a National Historic Landmark in 1992. The restored home is open for tours from April 1 until December 30. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
Hillforest Historic Mansion
213 Fifth St
Aurora, Indiana
812-926-0087

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