|Lanier Mansion State Historic Site|
|Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites, |
Markers & Museums
South East Edition
James F.D. Lanier 1800-1881
511 First & Elm Streets near Ohio River at Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, Madison. (Jefferson County, Indiana)
Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission, 1963
Marker ID #:
Rendered his most important public service during the Civil War when he loaned Governor Oliver P. Morton over $400,000 to equip Indiana's troops. He later arranged additional loans to save the credit of the state.
James F.D. Lanier (November 22, 1800 – August 27, 1881)
Born in Washington, North Carolina to Alexander Chalmers and Drusilla Doughty Lanier, he migrated to Madison, Indiana at age 17 with his parents. He studied law at Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky, and then got a job as assistant clerk. He became the Clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives at Corydon. He assisted in the move when the capital transferred from Corydon to Indianapolis in 1825.
Lanier became involved in finance and became President of the Bank of Indiana, an institution he had helped the State of Indiana establish. He gained majority stocks in the Madison branch of that bank in 1833.
By the late 1830's Lanier spearheaded the push to build the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad. This profitable railroad, along with his banking success, led to his accumulation of a large fortune. In 1844 he built his mansion in Madison, on a spot overlooking the Ohio River.
Financial Savior of Indiana
Lanier served twice to save the State of Indiana from financial ruin. In 1844 the State reeled from the massive Internal Improvement Act of 1836. The passage of the Act had strained the State's resources to the breaking point. He arranged with foreign investors to reduce the State's debt in return for transferring the property to the creditors. This saved the State from bankruptcy. During the Civil War the Federal Government requested that Indiana raise and equip troops to fight in the war. Governor Oliver P. Morton requested that Lanier, who by now lived in New York, to lend the State a half million dollars. Lanier complied with the request and followed it up with a later loan of a half million dollars. He received no guarantee of repayment for these loans. The State did repay him by 1870.
To New York
Lanier moved to New York, never again to come to Indiana, in 1851 to manage new businesses he had started there. He died in 1881. The family retained possession of the mansion. His son, Alexander C. Lanier, lived in the home from 1851 until 1895, continuing to develop the home and garden during that time. The State of Indiana acquired the property and restored it. It is now a State Historic Site, open to the public.
The Lanier Mansion
The Lanier Mansion has been designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994. Architect Francis Costigan for financier and railroad magnate James F.D. Lanier designed this 1844 Greek Revival mansion. It is also a State Historic Site, administered by the Indiana State Museum.
The Lanier Mansion is located just off the Ohio River Byway in the city of Madison, Indiana. On a slight rise above the Ohio River, the mansion was the home of James Franklin Doughty Lanier in the 1800's. Fully restored with period furniture the house and garden is now a state owned museum just a few minutes walk from historic downtown Madison.
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