My parents now live in a an extremely small town with very few things to keep one busy. When I come home from college I spend more time saying “I’m bored” than doing anything else. It was a treat to visit a well-known architectural site, an Aurora, Ind., historic home, Hillforest Mansion.
Hillforest Mansion was home to the Gaff family, built in 1855 after just two short years of construction. The home went through a number of owners, some who did not take as much pride in the history of the home as others.
In 1992 the home was listed as a historic site and refurbished.
The home has been restored to the era, with input from the Gaff children and pictures that have been found and given to the Hillforest Historic Foundation.
The home was designed with a steamboat in mind. The home is symmetrical on all sides with the exception of the third story addition. There is a floating staircase in the entrance, as in a ship. In its prime, the family was advised to only have one member on the staircase at a time. Now the staircase is reinforced and the weight limit is not given much of a thought. The staircase is one of the favorite features of the home, stunning in its glory; often the back drop of wedding photos.
The land on which the home sits is just as grand as the house. The land is terraced and cisterns installed for proper water drainage. The terraced land also provides addition entertainment space, as the second level is also at “ground level,” with a porch outside a back entrance. The ten acres the home sits on were originally used for farming, but have more recently been neglected.
After the many years of the home’s life and the multiple owners, the home now stands as one of the town’s greatest achievements. The home offers tours, afternoon teas, and summer camps for young girls to experience the Victorian lifestyle.
The home is just as grand today as it was in 1855.