Prior to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum’s current main building being opened in 1976, this former mansion at 30th and Meridian was its home from 1946-1973.
The Children’s Museum opened in 1925 in the carriage house of the Propylaeum, at the corner of 14th and Delaware Streets. That carriage house still stands. After moving to the shelterhouse in Garfield Park in 1926, the growing museum moved again into the mansion of its founder, Mrs. John N. Carey, at 1150 North Meridian Street. The mansion is now underneath I-65.
The Carey mansion remained its home through the 1930s and early 40s. The popularity of the museum as an inexpensive outing for families through the Depression and War years caused the assistant director Grace Golden to look for a new location for the museum. The St Clair C. Parry mansion seen above was purchased, and by late 1946, the museum was opened on its final site at 30th and Meridian.
Through the 50s and 60s, the museum grew and several additions and buildings extended across the former mansion estate. In 1972, problems with visitor capacity and inadequate exhibit space forced the decision to construct a new building. Starting in 1973, the various existing buildings were razed in stages and the new 203,000 square-foot building, the largest children’s museum in the world, opened October 2, 1976.
We do not know if any pieces of the mansion were retained in the museum collection; it would not be surprising.
As one of Indianapolis’ greatest attractions, the museum, in the mansion or its current building, was ingrained in the memories of nearly every Hoosier child. Who has recollections to share of the prior homes of the Children’s Museum?
Primary source: Children’s Museum website.