WHERE OUR STATE BEGAN
Transforming Indiana from a territorial outpost to a functioning modern state was a deeply dramatic and fascinating time in our nation’s history. From Corydon’s colorful beginnings, Hoosier statesmen carefully built the foundations for the state we know today.
About Corydon Capitol
Corydon Capitol State Historic Site commemorates Indiana’s first state capital and follows the development of Indiana from a territory to a state. Vincennes, the first territorial capital, was left on Indiana’s western edge when the Illinois Territory was created and, in 1813, the capital moved to Corydon, a more central location for Indiana’s population at the time.
In June of 1816, 43 delegates met in Corydon to draft the first state constitution. Much of their work was done under the shade of a large elm tree. The trunk of the tree, now known as “Constitution Elm,” is still standing. The first state election was on Aug. 5, 1816, and Jonathan Jennings was elected governor.
In November 1816, the first General Assembly of 29 representatives, 10 senators and the lieutenant governor met in the new capitol building. On Dec. 11, 1816, Indiana was formally admitted as the 19th state. Corydon remained the state capital until the government moved to Indianapolis in 1825.
Corydon, a National Historic District, features shopping and restaurants, as well as Indiana’s only Civil War battlefield.
The square, Federal-style capitol building, built between 1814 and 1816, is located in the heart of downtown Corydon. Workers hauled limestone from nearby quarries to erect the 40-foot square walls, and logs were cut from virgin forests for the ceiling and roof supports. In November 1816, the first General Assembly and the lieutenant governor met in the building. Corydon remained the state capital until 1825, when the capital moved to Indianapolis, and the capitol building became the Harrison County courthouse.
When the present courthouse was completed in 1929, the old capitol building was restored and opened as a state memorial in 1930.
The Governor’s Headquarters, a brick home built in 1817, was home and office to William Hendricks, Indiana’s second elected governor, from 1822 to 1825. The building is one of nine original buildings from the time Corydon served as the state capital. The other eight are: the Capitol, First State Office Building, Cedar Glade, Posey House, Westfall House, Branham Tavern, Adams-Payne House and Harvey Heth House.
Porter Law Office
Built in 1819, the Porter Law Office is where dozens of future Indiana law makers studied and read law. Judge William Porter, who also served as speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, made this building his office for nearly 40 years. The Porter family and their descendents lived in the former Governor’s Headquarters for 135 years.
First State Office Building
The recently renovated First State Office building, built in 1817, was home to Indiana’s first state auditor and treasurer. It is said that the money for the young state of Indiana was kept in a vault in the cellar. The building is now used for Corydon Capitol State Historic Site programming and is available as a rental facility.
Battle of Corydon
Corydon is home to Indiana’s only Civil War battlefield. The Indiana Homeguard engaged Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders on July 9, 1863, in a 30-minute skirmish on the outskirts of town. The battle site is open daily from dawn to dusk and features a restored 19th century cabin and monuments.
Corydon Capitol State Historic Site
Corydon Capitol State Historic Site is open year-round!
Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m. (Closed Sundays January through March)
Closed on Mondays.
Purchase admission tickets in the Capitol Building.
|Children under 3||FREE|
Indiana State Museum members and members of other State Historic Sites Friends Groups get FREE admission!
*Child: ages 3 through 12
*Senior: age 60 and older
Group/School Tours: Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more and for school groups. Call 812.793.4890 to schedule your group.
DIRECTIONS AND PARKING
Where to park
Parking is available around the historic downtown square. There is also a parking lot at the Visitor’s Center.
Civil War Education Day and Encampment
Dedicated to educating local youth and adults about Corydon’s and Indiana’s unique Civil War history, this two day event will have students rotate between stations depicting different aspects of Civil War life. Re-enactors will teach the students about these different aspects. Stations include: infantry, artillery, Civil War women, Morgan’s Raid, African-Americans in the Civil War. The public day, on Saturday, will feature the re-enactors presenting timed demonstrations during their encampment on the Capitol yard.
Homeschooled students and their families from Indiana are invited to the site for a day of programming and tours. Groups of students with their parents will rotate to different stations. Stations include: tour of Capitol, tour of Hendricks House, Junk in the Trunk program, Chores/Butter Making, and the Civil War.
Morgan's Raid Re-enactment
Prior to the annual downtown Raid re-enactment, children can make toy Civil War soldiers in the First State Capitol building. After the Raid, period refreshments will be available for free near the Hendricks House.
Get into the spirit of. . . MURDER in this fun Roaring Twenties themed fundraiser at the First State Office Building. Each guest will get to portray a character and work with other guests to solve a murder, make ‘money’ while learning and concealing secrets. Enjoy unique food and entertainment; wearing 1920s style clothing is encouraged.
Corydon's Unsavory Past
October 3 & 4
Volunteers and site staff lead guided walking tours through downtown Corydon sharing stories about its ‘colorful’ past. Guests will visit various locations in downtown Corydon to view vignettes portraying Corydon and Harrison County’s ‘shady’ past. The approximately 1.5-hour walking tour will end with a “wake” in the Governor Hendricks House which, in the past, hosted 22 real wakes.
Real Haunted Happenings Tour
Take a nighttime tour of the “haunted” buildings of Corydon State Capitol State Historic Site and hear some of the bone-chilling true stories of volunteers ‘spooky experiences’ while standing in the exact location. Tours will lead people through the First State Capitol Building, Governor Hendricks’ Headquarters and Wright Interpretive Center. No video cameras allowed on ghost tour.
EDUCATION EVENTS & STANDARDS
AT CORYDON CAPITOL
Transforming Indiana from a territorial outpost to a functioning modern state was a deeply dramatic and fascinating time in our nation’s history. From Corydon’s colorful beginnings, Hoosier statesmen carefully built the foundations for a new beginning.
Academic topics covered:
- Early Indiana Statehood
- Pioneer Life
Grades 4 - 5
Tour of Corydon Capitol Sites
Learn about Corydon’s role as Indiana’s first state capitol from 1816 to 1825 including the famous
Grades 9 – 12
Manners and Morals Workshop
Available November through March; must be scheduled six weeks in advance.