Elaborate doorways may be found throughout Madison.
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Madison, Indiana

Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House
National Park Service

In the 1830s, native Vermonter Lyman Hoyt and his wife Asenath Whipple Hoyt moved to Lancaster, Indiana, a settlement 10 miles north of Madison. Organized in 1815, Lancaster had a strong connection to the anti-slavery movement. Hoyt and other Lancaster residents created the Neil’s Creek Anti-Slavery Society in 1839 with the goal of mobilizing the community’s abolitionist efforts. The society took on a religious bent when it formed the Neil’s Creek Anti-Slavery Baptist Church in 1846, writing a disavowal of slavery into its bylaws. When Rev. Thomas Cravens of Oxford, Ohio expressed interest in organizing a school that allowed all to attend, regardless of color or gender, the Anti-Slavery Society helped build Eleutherian College, the first desegregated higher education institution in Indiana.

Many members of Neil’s Creek Church were active in the Underground Railroad, with the Hoyt family being no exception. Late 19th-century accounts confirm that Lyman Hoyt helped transport enslaved African Americans to stops along the Underground Railroad and hid freedom seekers on his property when fugitive slave catchers traveled through Lancaster. After Lyman’s death in 1857, the Hoyt family members stopped their direct association with the Underground Railroad, but Lyman Hoyt's widow and seven children continued supporting civil rights causes into the 20th century.

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House dates from sometime during the 1850s, around the same time Eleutherian College was being constructed about half a mile to the east. The two buildings have remarkable similarities, both showcasing sturdy, rough-hewn limestone construction and decorative corner quoins. Since the house and Eleutherian College are the only two Greek Revival buildings in Lancaster, it is likely the same local builder designed both buildings. The roofline contains decorative details like the semicircular vent in the front gable, scalloped wood trim, and small wood returns on the deep eave overhang.

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.

Plan your visit

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House, part of the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, is located at 71 47 W. State Rd. 250 in Lancaster, Indiana, about .5 mile from Eleutherian College. Click here for the Network to Freedom information. To reach the Hoyt House, take IN-7 north to SR 250. Head east on SR 250 3 miles. The building, owned by the non-profit Historic Eleutherian College, Inc., is not currently open to the public. For more information, call the Historic Eleutherian College, Inc. at 812-866-7291.

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