Indianapolis—The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) announced today that it has accepted a seven-year contract from property owners William and Laura Weaver to occupy and manage Twin Oaks, the former Indianapolis home of philanthropist Ruth Lilly. The IHS will utilize the house and surrounding gardens as a center for hospitality and membership events.
The house was built by Lyman S. Ayres II in 1941. Ayres sold the property to J. K. Lilly Jr. in 1963, and Ruth Lilly took up residence in 1987 and lived there until her death in 2009. The Weavers purchased Ms. Lilly’s estate in January 2011 in part to preserve the entire 22 acres from sub-division. At the time of purchase, the Weavers did not have plans for the 17-room house where Ruth Lilly spent the last years of her life. The Weavers and the IHS began discussions of how the use of the residence would need to be sensitive to both the historic nature of the house and its location in a residential neighborhood.
The Weavers will continue to maintain the 22-acre property and will use the woods, lawns and the “Hobby House” of J. K. Lilly Jr., Ruth Lilly’s father. They have already updated and refreshed the interior of the house in preparation for the start of the arrangement with IHS. IHS President and CEO John Herbst said several IHS members have already stepped forward to fully fund the re-furnishing of the house and have already received donations of furniture and carpets that are very appropriate for the period of the house.
“Laura and I are very glad the Society will be able to use the Lilly house, with its connection to two great Indiana entrepreneurial families, to strengthen its mission of broadening appreciation of Indiana’s rich history,” said Mr. Weaver, who is COO of Weaver Popcorn Co. “The Society’s participation helps us exceed our more limited initial plans for simply preserving a beautiful piece of Indianapolis by growing the numbers of people who will use and appreciate it. We couldn’t be happier with John and the IHS’s plans.”
The IHS plans to utilize the entire first floor for its activities and use the second-floor guest rooms for overnight stays for of out-of-town trustees, guest lecturers and consultants. The IHS intends to exhibit more than 30 works of art by some noted Indiana artists, including T.C. Steele and Frank V. Dudley, and several contemporary artists will loan paintings for display as well. Also, as part of the contract, Herbst will live at Twin Oaks and serve as resident curator of the house and surrounding gardens.
This use plan mirrors arrangements of other cultural and educational organizations in the area. Nearby, the former home of Eli Lilly is used by Indiana University’s president, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art utilizes the Clowes family home as a residence for its director.
“We are very grateful to the Weavers for their generosity and allowing the IHS to utilize Twin Oaks,” said Thomas G. Hoback, chair of the IHS Board of Trustees. “We are very excited about the opportunities to welcome our members and supporters to this lovely home through John’s hospitality. Our mission is to share Indiana’s history, and we have new ways to do this at Twin Oaks.”
Herbst has always done extensive amounts of entertaining on behalf of the IHS in his restored Victorian home and garden, which he has developed and cultivated there since moving to downtown Indianapolis in 1998.
“We have quite outgrown the capacity and the logistics of my 1890 Victorian floor plan, and I am looking forward to making Twin Oaks a warm and vibrant home again with a beautiful garden to share with the IHS family of supporters,” Herbst said.
About the Indiana Historical Society
A private, nonprofit membership organization of more than 6,000 households, the Indiana Historical Society has been collecting, preserving, interpreting and sharing the state’s history since 1830 and serves more than 300,000 people annually. IHS maintains the nation’s premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and presents a unique set of visitor exhibitions called the Indiana Experience. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups; publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; and provides youth, adult and family programming. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of the IHS and the Indiana Experience, is located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.
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