Designed in 1912 by Howard Van Doren Shaw, the Charles Fairbanks house served as a residence from 1912-1918. Charles Fairbanks served as the 26th Vice President of the United States under President Theodore Roosevelt (1905-1909). Charles Fairbanks was born May 11, 1852 in Ohio. He began practicing law in Indiana in 1874. Fairbanks accumulated substantial wealth by representing railroads and then investing that money. By 1892, he had become a partial owner of the Indianapolis News, a Republican newspaper in town. Fairbanks, along with two other lawyers, founded the Indiana Law School (1895).
In 1896, Fairbanks was the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention. He was also asked to be the vice-presidential candidate that year, but he declined. He had dreams of becoming President when William McKinley retired in 1904. In the meantime, Fairbanks was elected to the United States Senate and served from 1897-1905. On September 6, 1901, President McKinley was shot on and died eight days later. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt assumed the Presidency and was the
Republican candidate in 1904. Had Fairbanks accepted the earlier nomination, he would have attained his goal of becoming President. Instead, he was Roosevelt’s vice-presidential candidate in 1904. The Republicans won and Fairbanks served until 1909 although his political aspirations were not over. He would again run for Vice President as Charles Hughes running mate in 1916, but the pair lost to Woodrow Wilson and another Hoosier, Thomas Marshall.
Upon the end of his service in 1910, Fairbanks and his wife, Cornelia, returned to life in Indianapolis. The couple decided to build a house and hired Howard Van Doren Shaw to design it. Completed in 1912, Charles Fairbanks only lived there for six years. During this time, he became involved with the Smithsonian Institution and was a trustee of American University. In Indiana, he founded the Indiana Forestry Association. Fairbanks died June 14, 1918.
The house sat vacant for the next five years. In 1923, Indianapolis Life Insurance Company purchased the property and continues to use it for their corporate office. A series of additions in 1956, 1960, 1980, and 1985 to the back of the property were necessary for the growth of the insurance company but now dwarf the original house.
The Charles Fairbanks House serves as the offices for Indianapolis Life Insurance Company and is not open to the public.