If you grew up around New Albany in the 70’s, chances are you had an opportunity to take a class field trip to the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site at some point during your school years. But have you been back since? If not, you’re missing out as this historic landmark is not only an architectural masterpiece; it is an integral part of New Albany’s rich heritage, as were the Culbertson’s.
“It was saved by New Albany, and it’s for them. If they feel ownership, they're more inclined to get involved,” said Jessica Stavros, program developer, Culbertson Mansion.
In the 1960s, New Albany almost lost the Culbertson Mansion when developers attempted to bulldoze it to make room for a gas station. Thankfully, a group of historic-minded individuals saved it. By saving the mansion, all can continue to learn about its legacy and the early philanthropic efforts of William Culbertson.
“William Culbertson took life experiences and he used the privilege of his money to improve the quality of life for New Albany,” said Stavros. Among the many contributions that William Culbertson made, he was the benefactor for much of New Albany’s infrastructure, as well as a philanthropist, establishing the Widow’s Home and an orphanage.
As we celebrate New Albany’s Bicentennial year, the Culbertson Mansion is a perfect stop because William Culbertson played such an integral role in the early history of New Albany. The interpretive staff and seasonal, hard-working docents, offer tours throughout the week, and there are a variety of special events during the year. Mayor Jeff Gahan met with Stavros earlier this year to discuss the upcoming events held by the Culbertson during New Albany’s Bicentennial Year.
"We are very fortunate to have such dedicated group of individuals working to keep this rich piece of history alive," stated Mayor Gahan. “I encourage everyone to stop by the Culbertson for one of their upcoming events.”
The Culbertson Mansion will hold its annual Derby Murder Mystery on April 26 and 27. This year, the setting will be the roaring year of 1929, and will feature Sam Culbertson, the son of William Culbertson. (Sam Culbertson once served as the president of Churchill Downs, and he will always be remembered as the person who started the Garland of Roses tradition.)
“Sam changed the Kentucky Derby forever,” said Stavros.
During the Annual Herb Sale on May 10 and 11, there will be a special herb workshop featuring certified herbalist Jenny Boice. This will be the perfect time to learn about different traditional herbs and the variety of uses.
“Herbs have many uses beyond the kitchen. Most homes during this time would have had a home apothecary, and the lady of the house would know what herbs alleviate headaches, which herbs bring down fever, and so on.” said Stavros.
This year, we’re all looking forward to the Garden Party. This will be the first Garden Party since the Culbertson Mansion became a museum in 1976, although the Culbertson Family held such parties regularly. During the original parties, the Culbertson’s decorated the yard with Chinese lanterns, and brought the Oriental rugs from inside to the lawn. Stavros is excited to announce that they will do the same for this party. The Garden Party will feature live music, and in an official partnership with the New Albanian Brewing Company, they plan to debut the new “Tricentennial” beer. Roger Baylor, the owner of the New Albanian Brewing Company, will give a talk about the history of beer in New Albany, and the Culbertson Mansion will showcase bottles from local historic breweries along with Culbertson family letters that reference beer.
“This will be our celebration of New Albany’s Bicentennial,” said Stavros.
The Garden Party is open to those 21 and over. Events at the Culbertson Mansion may require an RSVP by calling 812-944-9600.
The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 pm to 5 p.m. The tours occur on the hour, with the last one commencing at 4.
•Derby Murder Mystery: Friday, April 26th & Saturday, 27th. 7:00 p.m., cost: $20 per person, $35 per couple. Reservation & advance payment required.
•24th Annual Herb Sale: Friday, May 10 & Saturday, 11th from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., workshop both days: 2 p.m., $7. Reservation & advance payment required.
•Community Open House, Saturday, June 1 & Sunday, 2nd from 1-5 p.m. cost: $2 for adults, $1 for children
•Garden Party, Saturday, June 1st from 8-11 p.m., 21 and over. cost: $10
Daily Tours: $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors, $2 for children, children under 3 are FREE. For more information, please visit: www.indianamuseum.org