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A Piece of Hoosier History at Conner Prairie: The Chinese House Renovation

You'll be able to see the house and a new pavilion, if you attend a wedding, meeting or corporate event at Conner Prairie.

FISHERS, Ind.--If you need to have a meeting or a wedding reception, you might get to see a piece of Hoosier history. The Chinese House at Conner Prairie is being renovated, and even though it's never been part of the public tours, the legacy of Eli Lilly at Conner Prairie is being preserved with the update.

"Because of his interest in Chinese art that he had because of two of his colleagues at Lilly, who were doing research there at the time, they got him interested in Chinese art and architecture, he changes the inside of the house, not the exterior, but the inside," said Norman Burns, president and CEO of Conner Prairie.

He said Lilly had the interior painted with Chinese symbols and decorated it with Chinese furnishings.

"Revenue generated from this partnership and new space will allow Conner Prairie to continue providing unique and innovative experiences for our members and guests for years to come," said Burns.

The original house was built around 1907 by the Atkins family of Indianapolis on land originally owned by William Conner. Indianapolis businessman Eugene Haslet Darrach purchased the house and property in 1915.

Eli Lilly, then president of Eli Lilly and Company, purchased the home in the late 1940s to use as a family retreat.

"The Bluffs is actually an additional pavilion that is being added to the Chinese House that will seat about 250 people," said Burns. "It's called the Bluffs because it's literally overlooking the White River."

He said he believes the renovations are a great link for the Conner Prairie past and future. The work should be done in 2019, and will likely not affect visits to Conner Prairie.

PHOTO: RATIO, provided by Conner Prairie

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