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James Whitcomb Riley House

James Whitcomb Riley House

528 Lockerbie Street

Indianapolis, IN 46202-3617


Written by Julie Greiner
The once home of the renowned Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley is now a shrine operated by Riley Old Home Association open to visitors from throughout the world. James Whitcomb Riley was born in a log cabin on October 7, 1849 in the little village of Greenfield, in the lap of Indiana's farmland. Riley's father was a frontier lawyer and politician who named his second son after an Indiana governor,
James Whitcomb. His mother wrote poetry as well as baked in a hearth oven and raised children. Riley grew up among these simple living, kindly people.

Victorian Living

Riley's best poems were of such Hoosier characters as "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphan Annie". President Woodrow Wilson sent a note of sorrow to Riley's family upon his death which expressed the feeling of the whole country : "With his departure a notable figure passes out of the nation's life; a man who imparted joyful pleasure and a thoughtful view of many things that other men would have
James Whitcomb Riley

He is remembered for nostalgic dialect verse and often called "the poet of the common people." At the age of 16 he left school and joined a group of itinerant sign painters. He acted in a patent-medicine show and worked for a newspaper. From 1877 to 1885 he was a regular contributor of verse to the Indianapolis Journal under the pen name of Benj. F. Johnson, of Boone. Some of the poems were collected in The Old Swimmin' Hole and 'Leven More Poems (1883), a volume that achieved great popularity. His best-known poems include "Little Orphan Annie,""The Raggedy Man," and "When the Frost Is on the Punkin." Riley's popularity derived mainly from his quaint use of Hoosier dialect, his cheerful and whimsical sense of humor, and his intimate understanding of life in the rural Midwest. His other works include Rhymes of Childhood (1890) and

Poems Here at Home (1893).

Born Oct. 7, 1849, Greenfield, Indiana - Died July 22, 1916, Indianapolis, Indiana

Inventions like the telephone, answering machine and e-mail have made a dinosaur out of the turn-of-the-century practice of leaving call cards with friends and neighbors. It may be gone but not forgotten. Twin calling card stands serve as an elegantly preserved reminder gracing the long entry hall at the museum home - a tribute to their Victorian Revival origins. This home/museum is a delightful example of Victorian architecture and interior design and furnishings. Just a true must to visit when traveling to Indianapolis. For more information call 317-631-5885
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Last Updated: September 23, 2015