The smaller Keene section of the house is of Federal design. The larger Bates-built section is of Italianate design complete with a 60-foot (18 m) tower on the home's east exposure. The house is one of the oldest standing structures in Indianapolis and Marion County.
Bates was Marion County's first sheriff (1822) and later, president of the Indianapolis branch of the state Bank of Indiana. He and Lanier brought the state's first railroad, the Madison and Indianapolis, to Indianapolis in 1847. In 1852 Bates built the lavish Bates House Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, where Abraham Lincoln stayed while en route to his first inauguration in Washington, D.C. Thomas A. Hendricks also lived in the home; he served as U.S. Senator from Indiana, Governor of Indiana, and Vice-President of the United States.
James O. Woodruff built the Victorian neighborhood around the home in 1872, calling it Hendricks Place. He would later develop Woodruff Place on the east side of Indianapolis. General John Coburn lived in the home for thirty years. He was first into Atlanta during the Civil War and secured the city's surrender. Upon his return to Indianapolis he became a four-time U.S. Congressman and set the cornerstone for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
In the early twentieth century the home's tower hosted one of the first radio transmitters in Indiana. In 1971, a building survey was done for the Bates–Hendricks House. It was used as the basis of all historic building data information in the years to follow. A copy of the original survey was found in the Library of congress and reviewed against current known information. Many major errors were found in the 1971 document including the construction dates of the home. Currently, the Library of Congress Survey is being updated to reflect what is now known about the Bates–Hendricks structure.