Administrator at Miller House earns Visitors Center honor

A longtime member of a team helping to maintain the Miller House earned the Columbus Area Visitors Center’s Partner of the Year Award.

Ben Wever received the honor Wednesday at the visitor center’s annual meeting at the agency’s headquarters on Fifth Street downtown.

The 36-year-old Wever, site administrator for the area’s popular modern architecture attraction, said it’s a privilege to share the house with the public. Last year, more than 4,000 people toured the nearly 7,000-square foot home designed by celebrated architect Eero Saarinen.

“I feel like I’m doing only a very small part for the community,” Wever said.

He began in 1999 working as a groundskeeper for the then-home of former Cummins Engine executive and wealthy industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia Miller. J. Irwin Miller died in 2004. Xenia Miller died in 2008.

Their children then gifted the house to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to manage, with the help of the visitors center, as an architectural tourist attraction.

“The Miller House and gardens are so very close to my heart,” he said.

“They’re really a labor of love.”

Kathryn Haigh, the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s deputy director for collections, exhibitions and facilities management, praised Wever for his devotion to his work, sometimes toiling 12 or more hours on more challenging days to accommodate special, last-minute tour groups and other tasks.

“He really is true to the property and the family’s original intent for it,” Haigh said.

For example, when the visitors center launched its new Creche the Halls 90-minute Christmas tour of the Miller House late last year, Wever made sure the 10 creches and other holiday adornments placed in the home matched the way J. Irwin and Xenia Miller liked for them to be displayed.

When accepting the award, Wever thanked his grandmother, Barbara Voelz, who fed his passion for the Miller House years ago, and also was a Miller family employee.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.