This 35 room mansion was built in 1874 by Benjamin Franklin Schenck, son of a wealthy “hay king” of the steamboat era. It was the marvel of its time with a four storied tower and five bathrooms. Each bathroom contains a walnut cased copper lined tub. Architecturally the house is of the “second empire” style. It has four porches, seven balconies, eight chimneys and numerous windows. The original slate roof is still intact. The exterior trim is all made of tin.
The Mansion Now
In 1945 the home was acquired by Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Wiseman who lived here and also used it as the clubhouse for the Switzerland County Saddle Club. The circular driveway at the bottom of the hill was originally a quarter mile track. In the 1970s Burrel Farnsley and Alexander Speer bought the property and began restoration efforts. They sold it in 1981 to Mark Miles, also of Louisville, who then sold to Jerry & Lisa Fisher in 1998. The Fisher spent 2 years restoring the mansion to its original grandeur.
The Second Empire architectural style was quite popular in Indiana from around 1860 to 1885. The style is named after the second emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, otherwise known as Napoleon III. It was a contemporary style quite popular in France. Architecturally, the stand-out features included a mansard roof (called a “french roof” by American builders), prominent dormer windows, and a wide entablature with brackets and various elaborate window treatments. Architects also borrowed many concepts from the Italianate style.