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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

A Stately Retreat: Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens in Indianapolis

Nestled within the enchanting grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens stands as a testament to the luxury of a bygone era. This historical estate, once home to the prominent Lilly family, has been meticulously preserved to offer visitors a glimpse into the city's rich cultural and architectural heritage. This article explores the captivating features of Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens, shedding light on its history, architectural splendor, meticulously curated gardens, and its role as a cultural treasure in Indianapolis. More can be found here.

Historical Legacy of the Lilly Family

Constructed in the early 20th century, Oldfields–Lilly House was the residence of J.K. Lilly Jr., a member of the renowned Lilly pharmaceutical family. The estate served as a luxurious home, reflecting the opulent lifestyle of the Lilly family. The architectural design, characterized by a harmonious blend of classical and Colonial Revival elements, showcases the elegance and grandeur associated with affluent American households of the time. Visit more about Nature's Playground: Holliday Park in Indianapolis.

Architectural Splendor

Oldfields–Lilly House, a masterpiece designed by architect Lewis Ketcham Davis, stands as a prime example of early 20th-century architecture. The mansion's stately façade, adorned with classical columns and intricate detailing, exudes a timeless charm. Visitors are transported to an era of refinement and sophistication as they explore the meticulously preserved rooms, each filled with period-appropriate furnishings, artwork, and personal artifacts from the Lilly family.

Expansive Gardens and Landscapes

Surrounding the Lilly House, the meticulously curated gardens add a touch of natural splendor to the estate. The gardens, designed by the renowned landscape architect Percival Gallagher, offer a seamless transition from the grandeur of the mansion to the tranquility of the outdoors. Visitors can wander through formal gardens, meandering pathways, and vibrant flowerbeds that showcase a diverse array of plant species. The Sunken Garden, with its geometric patterns and water features, stands as a captivating centerpiece within the expansive grounds.

Educational Programs and Tours

Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens provides visitors with the opportunity to delve into the history and heritage of the estate through educational programs and guided tours. Knowledgeable guides offer insights into the Lilly family's life, the architectural significance of the mansion, and the horticultural elements of the gardens. These programs cater to a range of interests, from architectural enthusiasts to those with a passion for horticulture and landscape design.

Cultural Events and Exhibits

The estate serves as more than just a historical site; it is a vibrant cultural hub hosting various events and exhibits throughout the year. From outdoor concerts in the gardens to art installations and cultural festivals, Oldfields–Lilly House engages the community in diverse ways. These events not only celebrate the historical legacy of the estate but also contribute to its contemporary relevance as a cultural destination.

Public Accessibility and Preservation Efforts

Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens is open to the public, inviting visitors to step back in time and experience the elegance of a bygone era. The estate's accessibility reflects a commitment to preserving and sharing Indianapolis' cultural heritage. Preservation efforts are ongoing, ensuring that the architectural integrity of the mansion and the lush beauty of the gardens are maintained for future generations to appreciate.


Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens stands as a living testament to the architectural and cultural legacy of Indianapolis. From the opulent interiors of the Lilly House to the meticulously manicured gardens, the estate offers a captivating journey through time. Whether exploring the historical significance, enjoying cultural events, or simply relishing the tranquility of the gardens, visitors to Oldfields–Lilly House are treated to an immersive experience that transcends the boundaries of history and art, making it an indispensable cultural gem within the vibrant landscape of Indianapolis.


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