Tour Offers Inside Look at Speakman House

On October 22, visitors will get a rare look at one of Indiana’s grandest yet most endangered homes, when the Ohio County Historical Society hosts a tour of the Speakman House in Rising Sun.

Speakman House, Rising Sun

Endangered Beauty

In the 1840s, Stephen Speakman hired Timothy Newman to design a home as a wedding gift for his bride. Newman delivered plans for a grand Federal Style mansion, designed to take full advantage of its site on a hill near Laughery Creek with a view of the Ohio River. The house was completed in 1846, built with local materials including wood from nearby forests and bricks baked on site. Today, long-deferred maintenance and vacancy have taken a devastating toll on the house, earning it a spot on our 10 Most Endangered list. The great house desperately needs a restoration-minded owner.

With 17 rooms covering over 6800 square feet, there’s a lot to love about the home, including many original historic features—a graceful main staircase, original woodwork, nine double fireplaces, and more. Indiana Landmarks recently funded a study of the building’s condition by RATIO Architects, with assistance from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, to identify stabilization priorities. The report estimates repairs could exceed $300,000.

Top priority is a new roof to stop the water damage. The impressive front portico requires attention, and a wraparound porch will likely need to be rebuilt. The house needs masonry repair, including reconstruction of an unstable exterior wall on the rear addition, and reconstruction of the long-gone widow’s walk that would offer a spectacular view of the Ohio River. The place will require completely new plumbing, electric, and HVAC systems. It’s a majestic property with loads of potential, waiting for a buyer with the right vision and resources to turn back the clock.

Not interested in taking on a major restoration project, but curious to see inside? The October 22 tour will offer access to select rooms, still elegant even in decay. A local winery will offer free tastings while guests explore the grounds and learn more about the property’s storied past. Admission is $25 per person, $15 per member of the Ohio County Historical Society. Buy tickets online at Eventbrite.

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