Indy’s Prettiest Polling Site

The Victorian-era mansion has been called out recently by CNN and <em>Architectural Digest</em>.
One of the top presidential homes in the United States is on North Delaware Street in Indianapolis. At least, that’s what CNN and Architectural Digest have to say; both have recently featured the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. And on November 8, some lucky voters will get to cast their ballots in the 16-room Italianate house.

Harrison, America’s 23rd president, built his home here after purchasing the land in 1867. He lived in the house until his death in 1901.

In 2015, president and CEO Charles Hyde contacted the Marion County Election Board to ask about becoming a polling site. At first, the office was confused. “There are not many organizations that call and want to be a polling site,” says Hyde. “For us, that was an epiphany. We realized that we could inspire other organizations to take pride in being a polling site.”

At the time, citywide turnout was at rock bottom—a measly 7 percent. At the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, it was at 10 percent. And voter turnout continues to improve; in the 2016 primary election, voter turnout citywide was 26 percent, but at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site it nearly doubled, to 50 percent.

“We’re proud to be a polling site,” says Hyde. “We’re doing something small that has much larger implications.”

If you don’t live in this voting precinct, you can still get a glimpse into turn-of-the-century life. Monday through Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m., guests can be escorted through 10 of the 16 restored rooms, which have been decorated with Harrison’s belongings. Each tour can run anywhere from 75 to 90 minutes; the last one ends at 3:30 p.m.