Miller House and Garden, one of the most significant examples of mid-century modern residential architecture in the United States, is a rare treasure even in Columbus, Indiana, a city renowned for its modernist legacy.

The 6,800-square-foot Miller House was commissioned by industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia Simmons Miller, in 1953, and completed in 1957.

First and foremost, it was a family home, but it was so much more.

Miller House and Garden

The beautifully landscaped mid-century modern Miller House and Garden is a National Historic Landmark. (Credit: Indianapolis Museum of Art)

Miller House and Garden: mid-century modern marvel

Miller House and Garden showcases the genius of leading 20th-century architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Girard, and landscape architect Dan Kiley. Together, they created an epitome of the international Modernist aesthetic: an open and flowing layout, configured in a novel grid pattern, with a flat roof and sizable glass and stone walls.

Sunken living room Mid Century Modern

The living room of the Miller House and Garden features an unusual sunken conversation pit. (Credit: Indianapolis Museum of Art)

While the building is somewhat stark and minimalist, the furnishings are rich, luxurious, eclectic, and sourced from across the globe. The house’s centerpiece is in the living room: an unusual sunken conversation pit decorated with an abundance of plush, colorful pillows. Imagine the lively talk that transpired when the Millers hosted their famous parties.

Garden in spring

The garden in spring. (Credit: Indianapolis Museum of Art)

The garden features an elongated allée of honey locust trees.

In 2000, Miller House further cemented its singularity. The estate was the first National Historic Landmark to receive that designation, while one of its designers (Dan Kiley) was still alive and while its original owner (Xenia Miller) still resided there.

The Columbus Area Visitors Center coordinates tours of the Miller House and Garden.

What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?

  • Miller House and Garden, a National Historic Landmark, is an icon of Modernism. The expansive property is an example of total custom design, down to the smallest detail.
  • Miller House, décor included, is largely preserved as it was when its original owners, J. Irwin Miller and Xenia Simmons Miller, lived there, from the late 1950s to the early 2000s.
  • Modern architecture, still popular today, might be familiar to those who remember the style from its mid-20th-century heyday.
  • The small town of Columbus, Indiana is an unexpected destination for architecture and art. The American Institute of Architects ranks Columbus as sixth in the nation for innovation and design.

Take note:

  • Visitors board shuttles at the Columbus Area Visitors Center for the brief ride to and from Miller House and Garden.
  • The tour is oriented to adults and children over 10, costs $25, and takes approximately 90 minutes. Guests watch an introductory video prior to the tour. Miller House is closed on Mondays.
  • The tour requires walking, both inside and outside the house, so dress in comfortable clothes and footwear.
  • To protect the house, guides instruct visitors to walk on carpet runners and to refrain from sitting on the furniture, touching anything, and taking photos. Hand-carried items will be stored in the cloakroom. Notetaking must be done in pencil, not pen.
  • Tours are small in size and fill up quickly, so book early online.

Disclosure: The author’s visit was hosted by the Columbus Area Visitors Center, but any opinions expressed in this post are her own.



For additional information about architecture in Columbus, Indiana, see Columbus, Indiana: Modern Architecture Makes a Major Statement

Be sure to get the whole scoop on Miller House and Garden on The Roads Traveled

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