Graham-Stephenson House - 5432 University Avenue

Irvington Neighborhood Biking Tour

Graham-Stephenson House - 5432 University Avenue

Indianapolis, Indiana 46219, United States

Created By: Historic Urban Neighborhoods of Indianapolis


Year Built: 1889

Architecture Style: Colonial Revival

Key Features:

  • Ionic Portico
  • Symmetrical Facade
  • Large Central Dormer

I’m going to ask you to take a good look at this house and remember it. Despite its stately design, it’s part of a dark chapter in Indiana’s 20th century history.

Prior to these dark deeds, the house was built in 1889 by William Graham, a Civil War veteran and American Consul to Winnipeg, Canada. After William's death, Mrs. Graham rented the house to a Butler University sorority in 1922. By 1923, Mrs. Graham decided to sell the house to D.C. Stephenson, the 1920s leader of the KKK in Indiana.

Stevenson added the full height Ionic portico which transforms the house into a grand and forceful statement. This may have been his intention; however, an equally viable explanation is that he simply meant to impress visitors of his political power.

In 1925, he was attempting to get KKK ideas integrated into Indiana school curriculum. Madge Oberholzter was a state employee who Stevenson thought could assist him. In 1925, Stephenson invited Madge to a party at his house in his continuing campaign to woo her to his ideas. Unfortunately, there was no party. Instead Stephenson kidnapped, raped, and tortured the 28-year old Madge. She took poison and committed suicide. Her doctor heard her deathbed confession, which was instrumental in bringing down Stephenson and the KKK in Indiana. Her death, though tragic, was critical in the dramatic decline of the KKK.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Irvington Neighborhood Biking Tour


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