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Twin Oaks Home and Garden Tour

Submitted by on May 26, 2014 – 8:30 amNo Comment
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Indiana_indianapolis_ayres-lillyIf you’re near Central Indiana on the first weekend of June, consider swinging by Indianapolis for the Twin Oaks Home and Garden Tour, 555 Kessler Boulevard West Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Tickets at the gate are $20; parking and shuttle service is available at Fox Hill Elementary School, 802 Fox Hill Drive, Indianapolis.

Two Hoosier legends lived at Twin Oaks, a Colonial Revival home on the Northside of Indiana’s capital city.

It was built in 1941 for Lyman S. Ayres II, and owned from the 1980s until her death in 2009 by Ruth Lilly.

Ayres was the grandson and namesake of the founder of L. S. Ayres & Company, a department store opened in Indianapolis in 1872. He served as president in the mid-20th Century. Known especially for its women’s fashions, Tea Room, holiday events and displays, it lasted through several mergers until disappearing into Macy’s in 2006.

After World War II ended, the Ayres family continued to develop the property and hired local landscape architect Frits Loonsten to design the extensive gardens.

In 1955, Josiah K. Lilly Jr., whose grandfather Eli Lilly founded pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Company, purchased Twin Oaks. It was their intention to move from their nearby residence to Twin Oaks, and they proceeded with a number of renovations.

Although all the changes were complete by 1965, Mr. and Mrs. Lilly decided not to move to Twin Oaks after all. Mr. Lilly died in 1966.

In the late 1980s, the Lillys’ daughter, Ruth Lilly, moved into Twin Oaks and stayed until her death in December 2009. (She’s the philanthropist who gave $100 million to Poetry Magazine.).

In May 2011, the Indiana Historical Society signed a lease to occupy and manage Twin Oaks. IHS uses Twin Oaks as a hospitality center, and it serves as the home of IHS President and CEO John Herbst, who acts as resident curator.

(Photo courtesy of Indiana Historical Society)

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