October 4-12, 2008, New Albany, Indiana, will be bustling with the excitement of its annual Harvest Homecoming. The festival was created to share the historic background and beauty of southern Indiana, and a big part of that is attributed to New Albany itself.
The river town was founded by Joel, Nathaniel and Abner Scribner, three brothers from New York … and was named after the capital of their native state.
Scribner House, located at State & Main Streets, is the oldest surviving building in New Albany. Built in 1814 by Joel Scribner, it was the town’s first frame house. It was made from oak, poplar and ash trees cut from the land.
This charming house was owned by three generations of Scribners, for a total of 103 years. It has four floors, seven rooms, and is filled with beautiful antiques and delicate textiles – most of which are original to the family.
Some highlights of the home’s collection include family portraits, medical artifacts, the first sewing machine to arrive in New Albany … and a collection of antique dolls.
The Scribner House was much more than a home. It also once served as Albany’s first Chamber of Commerce, its first church, and its first school. Its significance landed the house on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Today the house is owned and operated by the Piankeshaw Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). It was sold to the organization in 1917 by Joel Scribner’s granddaughter, Harriet, who was a member.
Although a regular fieldtrip destination for local schoolchildren, the Scribner House is only open to the public twice a year: The Saturday during National Preservation Week in May; and the 1st Sunday in December for Christmas Victorian Tea. Both events are free.
A few more facts:
- Did you know that New Albany once laid claim to being the largest city in Indiana until it was surpassed by Indianapolis in 1850?
- Joel Scribner and his brothers were the sons of the Revolutionary War Captain Nathaniel Scribner. Joel sold real estate and was New Albany’s first postmaster and town clerk.
- Prior to building Scribner House the family lived in a temporary log cabin at East Sixth and Main.
- The Scribner House property includes a summer kitchen, which is now operated as a gift shop and office. According to the DAR, it was built in 1850 as a physician’s office for Dr. William Augustus Scribner (Joel’s son). Dr. Scribner also served as New Albany’s city clerk.
- Today the Scribner House is the meeting place for the Piankeshaw Chapter of the DAR. Harriet “Miss Hattie” Scribner (daughter of Dr. William Scribner) sold the house to the DAR to ensure its preservation as a museum of the early life of the Scribner family and the town they founded. The price of the sale? $1500.
- Miss Hattie was a music teacher, giving lessons in piano, organ, guitar and more. Her pump organ is featured in the Scribner House music room. She never married and lived in the house until her death.
- Braided wool rugs found throughout the house were made by the DAR.
- Several prints by famous portrait artist George Morrison are found at Scribner House. Morrison lived in New Albany, Ind.
- The front door of Scribner House still bears the original doorknocker and name plate.
- Almost all rooms feature open fireplaces.
- The antique doll collection found in the children’s room was donated by the late Lillian R. Emery, DAR member and former New Albany schoolteacher (she taught for 41 years.
- The Piankeshaw Chapter of the DAR was founded in 1898. The charter can be found in the Scribner House parlor.
- There are double porches at the rear of the house.
- According to the DAR, a square on West Third (later Washington Street), between Main and Market was once known as Scribner Park. The public promenade and parade grounds were a popular summer hangout. The site is now covered by a part of the Sheman Minton Bridge (I-64).
- Group tours are by appointment only, for groups of 10 or more. For information, contact the Scribner House at 812-949-1776.
- Program 302
- Huber's Orchard & Winery, Westport Village restaurants, celebrity landscape artist Jon Carloftis, and the historical Scribner House in southern Indiana. Karen Morrison of Louisville's Gilda Club is our guest. (#302)