With apologies to the Lilly House at Newfields, the Studebaker mansions in South Bend, and the walled yellow palace on North Meridian Street, this might be the most fabulous house in Indiana. It has been fully renovated and is on the market for $1.19 million.
The Matthews Mansion in Ellettsville, just north of Bloomington, dates back to 1880, when a businessman known as “the father of Indiana limestone” built it from the goldmine he’d found in Southern Indiana’s quarries. Though John Matthews emigrated from England, the architectural style he chose is French Second Empire. With its slate mansard roof and ornate details, it could pass for a place in Paris’s Saint-Germain neighborhood if not for the two private acres surrounding the house instead of an arrondissement.
The Monroe County maison might have a true French pedigree, not just a look. Some evidence suggests that it was designed by Charles Garnier, a famous French architect best known for the Paris opera house that bears his name.
Regardless, the elegance is undeniable. Also called Greymount, the 4,300-square foot, three-bedroom home has 12-foot ceilings, plaster walls, tall arched windows, original moldings and medallions, and etched-glass transoms. Other original elements have been lost to periods of neglect, but a current owner restored the grandeur with a complete renovation that took three years, from major items like moving and modernizing the kitchen to details like rewiring an original crystal chandelier. It’s also now outfitted with smart-home systems.
Most curious are the faces of four Matthews children on the exterior masonry. The family had 12 kids, and it’s unknown which ones were immortalized in limestone. Whoever they are, they are watching what happens next with this glorious piece of Indiana history.
Address: 6445 W. Maple Grove Rd., Ellettsville
Price: $1.19 million
Agent: Debbie Cox, Carpenter Realtors, 317-258-6382