Guided tours of historic site buildings are available.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
We are closed on Mondays
Now Open Year Round
Including These Major Holidays
Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day

Building tour program fee
Standard admission: $3.50 for adults, $3 for seniors 65 and older,
$2 for children 12 and under.
Group tour: $3 for adults $1.50 for children
School groups on field trips: $1/person

Exploring the grounds including trails, gardens, and nature preserve are FREE of charge.  

Special discounts:
--Friends of T.C. Steele members receive a tour of the facilities free of charge and a 10% museum shop discount.  Friends members also receive a discount on programs which is as follows:

$1 off programs $5 and under
$2 off programs $5-$10
$3 off programs over $10

--We honor AAA membership and National Trust for Historic Preservation member discounts, which reduces the tour price by $.50 and you would receive a 10% discount in the museum gift shop.

Get the brochure here!

Location 1 "The Studio Garden"

Constructed in 1916, the Large Studio was the last of several studios built on the property. Nearly the entire north wall is glassed to provide constant, indirect light within for painting and for displaying finished work to best advantage. This view of the south side is more reminiscent of a local farm yard with orchard and "barn".

When T.C. and Selma Steele arrived in 1907, Bracken Hill Farm had been abandoned for 15 years, and had become overgrown with brambles and young trees. The Steels undertook an ambitious landscaping plan which transformed their hilltop acreage into elaborate gardens and orchards. Each spring would bring soft color to the hillsides as spring bulbs, wildflowers and blooming fruit trees augmented the hazy greens of budding tulip poplar, oak and hickory trees. Building the Large Studio during the difficult wartime economy put additional stress on the Steeles' already tight budget; Steele had sacrificed lucrative portrait commissions to gain more time for his beloved landscapes. The trees portrayed here thus served the dual purpose of providing artistic inspiration and added income from the sale of fruit.

The Studio Garden, 1920 Oil on canvas; T.C. Steele SHS
A photograph of the The Studio Garden, taken in 2002

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Pergola in Early Spring, 1918 Oil on canvas; T.C. Steele SHS
A photograph of the Pergola, taken in the Spring of 2005

Location 2 "Pergola in Early Spring"

According to one art critic for the Indianapolis Star, Steele's landscapes were of "nature in repose rather than nature in action...there is always a feeling of freedom, as one looks out, across or up vistas and wide valleys and distant hills and the blue sky above..." The 19th-century farmers who cleared the Brown County hillsides created the perfect subject matter for an artist of Steele's preferences. When Steele arrived in 1907 there was a 20-mile view to the north as seen through the arbor, or pergola.

Steele preferred the dramatic lighting of the early morning and late afternoon, often rising as early as 4:00 a.m. to paint. In Pergola in Early Spring, he studied the patterns of light shining through the foliage, a common subject of Impressionist painters. Steele would often place the foreground in shadow, with bright patches of light in the mid- and background to guide the eye into the composition. Here, the vivid yellow of daffodils adds to the effect.

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Location 3 "North Slope Vista"

During his days in Munich, Steele developed a preference for landscapes that had a particular internal logic. In his landscape sketches and paintings, Steele returned again and again to compositions in which the eye is led into distance by means of water, a road, or a border of trees. Here, the eye is drawn by the road and the strong diagonal of the trees to a distant view of the nearby Washington Parks homestead. In 1910 the Steeles purchased this 40- acre farm, acquiring additional vistas to the north and west.

In his pre-Munich days, Steele dabbled in photography. This relatively new technology, along with the mid-19th-century introduction of Japanese art to the west, had a profound effect on Impressionist landscape compositions. The asymmetrical arrangement of landscape features in this painting is typical of Japanese prints. The strongly vertical foreground trees help “ground” the composition. In his later years, Steele occasionally returned to the camera to supplement his preliminary sketches.

North Slope Vista, 1924 Oil on canvas; T.C. Steele SHS
A photograph of the North Slope Vista, taken in 2002
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Old Oak Tree, 1917 Oil on canvas; T.C. Steele SHS
A photograph of the Old Oak Tree, taken in 2002

Location 4 "Old Oak Tree"

Steele varied his panoramic vistas with landscapes which provided a more intimate view of nature. The Old Oak Tree is, in essence, a portrait of a tree: individual and distinctive in its features. One of the few truly old trees on the property when Steele purchased it, this scarred veteran has survived with a few changes-limbs have been lost to time, weather, and tall vehicles- but it is still recognizable as the venerable oak depicted by Steele.

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Location 5 "A Gray Day at the Gateway"

If you cross the driveway to the left side and move slightly toward the road, your view will approximate Steele’s in A Gray Day at the Gateway.

In A Gray Day at the Gateway, split rail fences border the present Redbud Field, hinting at the property’s former life as a working farm. Most of the Steeles’ neighbors were subsistence farmers who were suspicious of a man who would so neglect his fields, and who earned his living in such an odd fashion as painting pictures. Steele had earlier written that he wished to “grow our own foregrounds. Foregrounds are composed principally of weeds and are not always easy to come by…”

A Gray Day at the Gateway, 1915 Oil on canvas; T.C. Steele SHS
A photograph of the A Gray Day at the Gateway, taken in 2002
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Week's Wash, 1910 Oil on canvas; T.C. Steele SHS
A photograph of the Week's Wash, taken in 2002

Location 6 "Week's Wash"

In his later years, Steele increasingly turned to "pure" landscapes, in which no people or animals appear. He may have felt this would allow the technical elements to stand out more strongly, elements, which he termed the "quality of a picture’s tone, the music of its color." The artist made frequent exception, however, for his wife. He featured Selma many times in his landscapes as she engaged in domestic activities or worked in the garden. Selma took great pride in any contribution she was able to make to her beloved husband's work.

The building in the background is not the Large Studio; rather it is the older Little Studio. This building, which now serves as the site office, was moved to its present location in the early 1920s after standing for many years on the west side of the driveway. After construction of the Large Studio between the Little Studio and this location, the Little Studio was obscured from view by the larger building.

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Location 7 "West Porch in Winter"

In the nineteen years T.C. and Selma Steele shared the House of the Singing Winds, it was never truly completed. The core section was built in 1907, the house nearly doubled in size the following year, and additions and changes continued to be built in the ensuing years. Ten days before his death, as workmen bustled around him making yet another alteration to his home, Steele wrote, "It is good to hear hammer and saw. It means someone is well and at work." Steele's paintings of his home, studios and other structures help guide building restoration.

The House of the Singing Winds was, at first, strictly a seasonal home. Steele first modified his habit of spending winters in Indianapolis in 1910, when he constructed two tiny studios on the property and spent the winter landscape painting. Gradually, the home became more of a year-round residence. When Steele became formally associated with Indiana University in Bloomington, he was better able to paint the site year-round.

Visitors are invited to tour the historic Large Studio and House of the Singing Winds during the site's regular hours of operation. To see more paintings by T.C. Steele, visit nearby Indiana University where Steele served as Indiana University's first Artist in Residence from 1922 until his death in 1926.

West Porch in Winter, 1922 Oil on canvas; T.C. Steele SHS
A photograph of the West Porch in Winter, taken in 2002