Indiana has a rich history, both industrial and cultural. Because of that, there are numerous historic sites across the state that make incredible venues for meetings and events. From Native American mound-builder sites to historic mansions and a 1920s vaudeville theater, there are plenty of unique meeting venues to choose from.
Veraestau Historic Site
Built in 1810, Veraestau sits on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River in Aurora. The beautiful old mansion is not only open for tours from spring through Christmas but is also a great meeting venue.
The home was donated to Indiana Landmarks about 20 years ago. It came fully furnished and decorated by the home’s previous owners, who purchased it in the 1930s. The furniture isn’t roped off; visitors are encouraged to fully enjoy the house by “appreciating the historic materials and artifacts without feeling you are in a museum,” said Jarrad Holbrook, director of the Southeast Field Office and Veraestau Historic Site for Indiana Landmarks.
When the home isn’t open for tours, it is available for meeting and event rental. The inside meeting spaces consist of two small parlors, a medium-size dining room and a larger double parlor. The dining room has a table that can sit up to 12 people. The site also has six-foot folding tables that can be added to the other rooms for a total event size of 32 people.
“We encourage people to explore the house and have a look around,” Holbrook said. “We’re happy to give people further context.”
The site has full restroom facilities, a full kitchen and updated appliances. Caterers are welcome to come in and bring their own food. The home is equipped with a portable screen and projector. South of the home, 60-foot tents can be erected for events of up to 300 people overlooking the river below.
The Embassy Theatre turns 92 years old in May. The theater, originally built as a movie palace and vaudeville house, also came with a seven-story, 250-room hotel wrapped around the north and west sides of it. The theater still has its working Grande Page pipe organ, which was installed in 1928. The organ, which is only one of three built of its size, has 1,100 pipes.
In the 1970s, the hotel was renovated into a ballroom and meeting spaces for weddings, meetings and in-house events. The ballroom can host 350 guests for a sit-down plated dinner and about 400 for a cocktail party. The theater itself can hold 2,400 people for concerts, shows, lectures and presentations. Groups can use the lobby for cocktail receptions before the speaker or presentation portion of an event.
Many people rent out the space because they love the 1920s feel of it. The facility provides tables and chairs, and its staff is hands-on with the planning, said Brittneay King, events manager for the theater.
“A lot of people want to have Roaring ’20s parties here,” she said. “It is very cool for that vintage look people are looking for.”
The theater is ornate, she said, and when people host events there, they don’t have to bring in a ton of decorations to create the perfect atmosphere.
Monroe County History Center
The Monroe County History Center was built as a Carnegie Library in 1918. In the 1970s, a new library was built next door, and the original building was slated for demolition. Thankfully, a group of citizens fought to save the building, and it was turned into a museum and a genealogical research library.
Groups that meet at the history center can include the museum as part of their rental for an additional fee. The main room in the museum is on the first floor in what was formerly the community room of the Carnegie Library. Rental includes use of the stage and the staging kitchen, tables and padded folding chairs. It can hold 80 people.
The museum’s permanent exhibits are in the oldest part of the library building. The Cook Gallery explores Monroe County from the arrival of the first European settlers to present day. There is an 1880s one-room school and an original 1840s cabin to explore. The museum gets about 11,000 visitors a year.
Tippecanoe Place Restaurant
Tippecanoe Place Restaurant is housed in a National Historic Landmark. The 40-room, 24,000-square-foot mansion was built by Clem Studebaker, the founder of Studebaker Wagon Corporation, between 1886 and 1889. Before the Studebaker family made automobiles, they were the world’s largest manufacturer of wagons, and that’s how they made their fortune.
The family ended up losing the mansion during the Great Depression. After that, the home was used for various purposes: a school for people with disabilities, the Red Cross during World War II, the E.M. Morris School for Crippled Children, school offices and administration, and space for a local historical preservation group. Then in 1980, a division of Ralston Purina bought the building and turned it into a restaurant, and its current owners have maintained that tradition. Groups can rent out individual rooms in the mansion or the entire house, which can accommodate groups of 12 to 200. The mansion’s grounds are also available for wedding ceremonies.
“Most of our rooms seat about 30 people, but three different rooms seat up to 60,” said Kevin Jakel, general manager of the restaurant. “We do weddings, lunch and dinner events, meeting events and business dinners.”
Guests are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the house as part of their visit. Tippecanoe Place serves American classic cuisine like steak, chicken, seafood and prime rib. Jakel calls his restaurant a special-occasion spot. The home is decked out for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, which are the busiest five weeks of the year, he said. The restaurant also hosts brunch every Sunday.
Angel Mounds State Historic Site
The United States is home to many mound sites built by Mississippian cultures between A.D. 1000 and 1450. Angel Mounds is an archaeological site that sits on 600 acres and includes a village site and 11 mounds. They are some of the youngest mounds in the U.S., at around 1,000 years old.
“We’re the last gasp of the mound builders with this culture,” said Mike Linderman, Western regional director for Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. He added that the mounds aren’t burial mounds.
“They are status symbols,” he said. “The larger the mound, the more important they would have been in the community. They are the mansions of our property.”
Angel Mounds rents out its grounds for special events, and its visitor center can host groups of up to 100 people. The staff at Angel Mounds will provide programming to go along with any business meeting, and guests have a fantastic view of the grounds from the visitor center’s large viewing window.
Angel Mounds doesn’t have designated caterers. Planners can bring in food and alcohol from wherever they want or use the visitor center kitchen to make their own. The museum was built in 1971. Every few years the staff upgrades the information and exhibits to reflect new findings from the property’s archaeological dig.