Early HistoryBefore the National Road was built in 1828, four horses stood ready on the Circle in Indianapolis to move their stage coach and passengers south to Madison, Indiana and the Ohio river steam boats. They would travel from the Circle using the Madison State Road. About a mile out they would pass the Richard Keene farm, which had been purchased in July of 1821 shortly after the Native Americans had left Central Indiana. Mr. Keene had purchased 80 acres from the Federal government just south of the village of Indianapolis. On this land, he built his small brick Federal-style home, which is still standing today.
As the years went by, there were several property owners until Hervey Bates purchased the property in 1851. Bates was born in 1795 in Fort Washington, Ohio where his father was Master of Transportation under General Anthony Wayne. In his early twenties he had been a store and mill owner. Indiana's first governor, John Jennings asked Bates to move to the young village of Indianapolis in 1822, as the county's first Sheriff. His job was to set in motion the town's first official election, which he did. As time passed, Bates moved on to run the Indianapolis branch of the Indiana State Bank, and bring the first railroads to Indiana. In 1852, Bates had the grand "Bates House Hotel" built on Washington Street and added on to what would eventually become known as the "Bates-Hendricks House" on the Richard Keene Farm. Today, this home is one of the oldest standing structures in Central Indiana.
Construction: All BrickThe oldest section of the home is the Federal servant wing, which includes the Richard Keene home. The main Italianate section was built by Bates in 1852, containing an 8-foot-wide central hall with a parlor, a formal dining room, and kitchen. There are two bedrooms upstairs and there are four formal fireplaces. The windows are tall, being over 8 feet high, and the ceilings are all 12 feet in height. The outer window shutters are over 9 feet tall.
In 1858, Bates enlarged the home to include a sixty-foot tower, a second more formal parlor, and a formal master bedroom, adding two more white marble Victorian fireplaces. The home has always been a private residence and is an early example of Indiana pre-Civil War Italianate construction.
Other Notable OwnersIn 1865, Bates sold the home to Thomas A. Hendricks, an Indiana U.S. Senator. While living in the home, Hendricks was elected Governor of Indiana and later became Vice President of the United States.
In 1872, Hendricks sold the twenty-plus-acre estate to James O. Woodruff, who platted the property and called the new neighborhood "Hendricks Place". He would later build Woodruff Place.
In 1885, the property was sold to General John Coburn. Coburn received the surrender of Atlanta during the Civil War and, upon returning to Indiana, became a four-term U.S. Congressman. He was instrumental in getting the Soldiers and Sailors monument built in downtown Indianapolis and he and his father were also two of the founders of the Indiana Historical Society. Coburn died while living in the home in 1907.
Currently, the home is owned by Jay and Lois Allen, who have restored the home and its beautiful gardens. Information on home tours is available on the Tours page.