The Daniel S. Major House: An Exquisite High Style Italianate Meant to Be Seen

Another piece of history is searching for its next caretaker, this time it’s the ca. 1860 Daniel S. Major House in Lawrenceburg, Dearborn County, Indiana (Cincy MLS # 1638355/$399,900 list price). This striking home sits prominently on a terrace overlooking the Ohio River and U.S. Route 50 (West Eads Parkway) just on the outskirts of Lawrenceburg’s historic city center.

It’s a mere 25 miles or so from downtown Cincinnati (about 35 minutes by car, less as the crow flies).

Location of the Daniel S. Major house on the 1875 Lake, Griffing & Stevenson Dearborn County, Indiana atlas

Facing the front of the home, it’s an impressive sight.  The house is framed by steep hillsides that rise over 400 hundred feet from the flat Ohio River Valley. The property encompasses 18.39 acres. You can just envision the original circular drive that led to and from the front entrance–a stone carriage stoop still sits opposite the steps leading to the front door.

This two-story, high style Italianate has 4 bedrooms and over 4,400 square feet of living space. The exterior is notable for its bracketed eaves, half-round windows, hood moldings and, of course, the bay windows that give the home its nickname, “Twin Bays”.  The home’s interior features a plethora of original details: hardwood floors, decorative fireplaces (7 actually), rich moldings, original hardware, a grand staircase, and tall ceilings.

Everything about the home–size, location, style, and materials–is meant to inform the visitor that it was built as the substantial and stylish abode of well-to-do person.

Daniel Symmes Major moved to Lawrenceburg in 1831 after completing his education in Oxford, Ohio (yes, that’s Miami University, founded in 1809 and the 10th oldest public university in the U.S.). He studied law with General James Dill and was admitted to the bar in 1832. In 1833, he married Catherine Eliza Guard, the daughter of a local prominent family, and partnered with Attorney (and later U.S. Congressman) Amos Lane. Major’s residence and office were on High Street in Lawrenceburg. During the 1840s, Major became interested in real estate. By 1860, he had conducted over 120 sales of Lawrenceburg city lots and platted two additions to the city…He was established.

Following the likes of similar prominent gentlemen of the Ohio River Valley, Major built a stylish home in a country setting near to his place of business–Lawrenceburg. He hired the Cincinnati architectural firm of Hamilton & Rankin to design it. Both John Hamilton and James Rankin were architects of note, while the prominent Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford got his start in Hamilton’s office in 1857.

The Daniel S. Major house is one of the finest and earliest high style architect-designed Italianate mansions in the region. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 (NRHP #03001320), today, it is a historic gem, virtually intact with very few alterations or changes.

Photos compliments of Listing Agents Joan Lane and Ashley Enniking, Coldwell Banker West Shell.

References: Daniel S. Major House/03001320, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, National Park Service, 2003.