Businessman Charles Pierson constructed what is now known as the Kemper House in 1873 for his new bride, Mary Alice Scofield. This circumstance, combined with its decorative roof cresting, led to it sometimes being called “the wedding cake house.” The house incorporates elements of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles. 

The Kemper House in 1963, following its restoration. Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

The Piersons occupied the house nine months before selling it. Subsequent owners of note, Mr. and Mrs. John Lewis Griffiths, owned the house from 1897 to 1914. Mr. Griffiths served in the Indiana House of Representatives and as consul general in Liverpool and London.

Following a series of owners and a variety of uses, industrialist and philanthropist Eli Lilly purchased the house in 1962, saving it from demolition. After renovation, Lilly donated it to the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis for use as a curate’s residence and meeting space. The church dedicated it as the Kemper House in honor of David Jackson Kemper, Indiana’s first Episcopal bishop (1835-1849). 

In 1977, the Episcopal diocese donated the house to Indiana Landmarks, a private, statewide historic preservation organization founded in 1960 with assistance from Eli Lilly. The house served as the organization’s Indianapolis and Central Regional Office from 1977 to 2009. In 2013, the home returned to its original use as a private residence for use by the president of the organization.

Revised February 2021

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