Howard Steamboat Museum

The Howard Steamboat Museum is housed in a 1890's-built home owned by the second-generation owner of the famed Howard Shipyard, Edmonds J. Howard. We feature an authentic look into the lives of a Victorian-era family, their home, and a unique and comprehensive museum of the American River Steamboat. The Howard Shipyard was founded by James Howard in 1834, directly across Market Street from the location of the museum. James passed in 1878. He was the premiere river steamboat builder in the nation. His son, Edmonds would take over the operation of the yard and upon his passing in 1918, his son's Clyde and James would operate the yard. Clyde sold out to James in 1924 and the yard would be sold in 1941 to the Federal Government to aid in the war efforts. The breathtaking 22-room three-story Richardsonian Romanesque mansion (built for the family over a 4 year period by the shipyard workers) features a large collection of furnishings purchased by Mrs. Laura Howard (Edmonds wife) at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The home includes a fascinating collection of "gasoliers" (gas and electric operated chandeliers) and one of Southern Indiana's first indoor bathrooms. The carpentry is a spectacular collection of 15 different species of lumber with impeccable attention to every detail. A walk through the home is a step back into time, as the home is meticulously kept as close as is possible to the way the Howards lived in it. Because steamboat builders built the mansion, look for some of the steamboat details they incorporated into this unique home...there are lots of them! The second floor of the mansion is a comprehensive museum of the American River Steamboat, focusing most specifically on the Howard Shipyard and the types of vessels they built. You will see examples of some of the first crude vessels to sail the rivers all the way up to the commercial vessels of our modern day. Here you will learn about how the steamboat helped form a nation and went on to provide everything the country needed from delivery of goods to settle lands to entertainment and everything in-between. Our staff looks forward to welcoming you and sharing our historic gem with you. We offer both guided and self-guided tours. We are also available for group tours (with a reservation at least two weeks ahead of time) and offer group discounts. In combination with our unique rental venue (The Carriage House at the Howard Steamboat Museum), the possibilities for your experience on our campus are endless! Come home to the Howards'!
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