A view of Madison’s Main Street, c.1890.
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Madison, Indiana

Francis Costigan House

Francis Costigan House

Francis Costigan House
Courtesy of Bradley Miller

The prominent Madison architect Francis Costigan built this townhouse for his family in 1850. Born in Washington D.C. in 1810, Costigan trained in Baltimore and was heavily influenced by New York architect Minard Lafever. Soon after arriving in Madison in 1837, Costigan began designing local buildings including the Lanier and Shrewsbury homes, both of which are now individual National Historic Landmarks. In 1852, Costigan moved to Indianapolis where he continued his architectural career until his death in 1865.

The Francis Costigan House is considered a marvel in urban design with Costigan fitting the stylistic details associated with Greek Revival homes onto a 22-foot wide city lot. The two-story, red brick building is rectangular in plan with sandstone foundation and small basement windows on the façade. The house’s large windows have sandstone sills and slightly pedimented lintels. A projecting cornice with dentils and beading creates an entry portico supported by two Egyptian-influenced columns. The portico also sports a detailed coffered ceiling, an unexpected stylistic addition. Another thick cornice with decorative dentils follows the façade’s roofline.

The front and back stairs of the Costigan House meet at a narrow landing on the second floor.

The front and back stairs of the Costigan House meet at a narrow landing on the second floor.
National Park Service

Costigan’s architectural mastery continues on the house’s interior. The main entrance contains a sliding pocket door, which allowed Costigan improved use of the interior space usually reserved for a hinged front door. The drawing room’s tall windows and door embody the vertical emphasis seen in many of Costigan’s houses and the room’s bowed southeast end, complete with curved door, allows for a small entry hall. The high-style room has dual cast-iron fireplaces in black wood mantels embellished with carved ogee designs and gilded egg-and-dart molding. Straight flights of stairs from the hall and the dining room meet at a small second-floor landing and are separated by a removable swinging gate.

In all, 14 Costigan-designed homes still stand in Madison’s National Historic Landmark district. Preservation group Cornerstone, Inc. offers a pamphlet and walking tour of the homes. The Francis Costigan House contributes to the historic significance of the Madison Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.

Plan your visit

The Francis Costigan House, a property owned by Historic Madison, Inc., is located 408 W. Third St. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The Francis Costigan House is open to the public mid-April through October. Admission is charged. For more information about visiting the house, see the Historic Madison, Inc. website or call 812-265-2967. For more information on the Architecture of Francis Costigan pamphlet and walking tour, e-mail

The Francis Costigan House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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