Spann / Miller House

Built: about 1873
Current Status: demolished
Address: 1207 North Delaware Street
Architect: Christian Rafert
Photo from the Wilbur Peat Collection, Indiana Landmarks

Around 1873, John and Thomas Spann built twin frame houses on the east side of Delaware Street at 1203 and 1207. The houses were a modified “Downing” cottage style with narrow windows and high gables with decorative trim.

In 1879 the 1207 property was sold to William Henry Harrison Miller. Miller was Benjamin Harrison’s law partner for many years and also served as Attorney General in his cabinet. Miller, born in 1840, was named for Harrison’s grandfather (President William Henry Harrison).

During Benjamin Harrison’s campaign in 1888, Harrison and Miller would often sit on the porch and discuss the events of the day. Miller’s son Samuel remembered, “I always treasured the compliment the general (Harrison) paid our family…he never asked that our mother or any of the rest of us should go away nor reminded us that we must not repeat what we heard. He trusted to our upbringing and not one word was ever repeated.” He also recalled playing with Fred Ayres, Frank Allen, and other neighborhood children.

The twin cottages stood until the cottage at 1203 was removed for the Christian Science Church in 1912. The cottage at 1207 remained for a few more years until it too disappeared from the Delaware Street landscape sometime after 1929. Today the site is a parking lot for the church.

This house is just one part of this exhibit going on now at the Benjamin Harrison Home, 1230 N Delaware Street:

Windows to the Past: Harrison’s Indianapolis
February 21 to November 2, 2011

Indianapolis from 1854 to 1913 was a city growing in commerce, population, political influence, diversity, entertainment and educational opportunities. Looking into the windows of the past, we see the city leadership and the remarkable men and women who interacted to create a thriving, accomplished society. We see the strong businesses that established themselves, built buildings in which to operate, contributed products and jobs to grow the economy. We see the lifestyle, culture and educational attainment that allowed for enhanced living. The Harrisons were part of the population who moved north as the hustle, bustle, noise and pollution of the city increased. The material culture left behind will teach us much about the strength, courage, insight and inspiration of the Harrisons and their city. Open the window to this moment in time to discover remarkable facts and amazing figures about the growing city that would become known as the Crossroads of America.

Jennifer Capps is the curator for the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

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