After my tour of the Sullivan House, which was a bit disjointed of a tour, I meandered across the street to the Schofield House. I thought I was ready for anything.
Not really. This was another slightly quirky tour.
I was the only one at the house and I had to guide the docent to explain and walk me through the building. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at.
I knew that the Schofield House was a tavern/residence. And that it was connected to the Freemasons. But other than that I was out to sea.
The docent waxed on about different things involving the Freemasons and his connection to them. (He grew up in the house across the street. His father was a Freemason. It was a secretive society—you never knew who was a Freemason. Freemasons are making a comeback. What? You don’t know about the Freemason hospital and retirement community in Franklin?!)
I gently eased him back to the tavern/house. When was the building constructed? 1816. Was it always a tavern/residence? Until the 1920s. And then? A private residence last owned by Schofields.
I presume that the front room was the tavern. Next to it are the rooms of the residence. The front room of the residence was originally a bedroom, now a parlor. “Guess what my favorite thing is in the room?”, he asked. Hmmm…After several guesses, I gave up. “The floor. It’s original.”
Interesting that it wasn’t the swords on the couch in front of the fireplace. I asked about the swords. One was a sword that belonged to Schofield who was a member of the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization similar to the Freemasons.
Beyond the parlor is the dining room and then kitchen. Upstairs is the lodge room where the famous meeting to form the Indiana Freemasons happened. (In 1818, 14 Freemasons met to found the Grand Mason Lodge of Indiana.) The room still operates as a Freemason meeting room most Sundays.
The remainder of the upstairs is closed, apparently an apartment for the docent. (Kind of a tour guide in residence?)
With some sleuthing, I learned a bit more about the building. Some of it conflicted what I learned on the tour. The building was constructed in 1817, the first two-story brick house in Madison (which means that it just beat out the Sullivan House for that honor), and the first tavern.
The building is also referred to as the Lanier-Schofield or Robinson-Schofield House. The Laniers were Alexander and Drusilla, the parents of James Lanier of Lanier Mansion fame. Either the Laniers or William Robinson were responsible for the building’s construction.
Along the way, the house came into the Schofields’ possession. Following the death of Charlotte Schofield (the last resident), the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in the Valley of Indianapolis bought the property in 1972. In 1975, after extensive restorations, the Masonic Heritage Foundation opened the building as a Masonic museum.
If you are interested in Freemasons, also check out the Scottish Rite Cathedral. The eyes of the docent lit up when we talked about it. The Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis is a real gem.