December 2017

Irwin Home and Gardens for sale

The historic Irwin Home and Gardens in Columbus, Ind., have been placed on the market by the family.

For Sale: Irwin Home & Garden in Columbus, Ind. Photo Kid-At-Art/The Imagination Factory

For Sale: Irwin Home & Garden in Columbus, Ind. Photo Kid-At-Art/The Imagination Factory

The Italianate garden has been open to the public for years on summer weekends, where visitors would see a landscape rich with sculpture and plants. The home was completed in 1864 and expanded in 1910, when Henry Phillips, a Boston architect was hired. He designed a walled garden and retained Arthur Shurtleff, also of Boston, to develop the landscape.

J. Irwin Miller, founder of Cummins Corp., and his older sister, Elizabeth Clementine Miller, grew up in the house at 608 Fifth St. She passed away in 1998.

The landscape was the only Indiana property featured in the Oxford Companion to the Garden, edited by Patrick Taylor in 2006, with a passage written by yours truly.

Irwin, who died in 2004, was a founder of Cummins Corp. He is considered the prime force behind his native Columbus’ reputation as the Athens of the Prairie because of his interest in art and architecture. His wife, Xenia, died in 2008.

“Because of the death of my mother last year, the Irwin Gardens will not be able to be open to the public this spring,” said Will Miller, son of the philanthropists, according to the Columbus Republic.

“However, it is my family’s sincere desire that we can find a new owner who will include an opportunity for the gardens to be available to the public free of charge at least one day each week,” he told the paper.

It should be noted that this is not the same property that was purchased recently by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  J. Irwin and Xenia lived in a house designed by Eero Saarinen, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. That was the same year Columbus’ First Christian Church was listed on the register. The church was designed by Eero’s father, Eliel Saarinen, in 1942.

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