Carmel Historical Society to build new Museum on Monon Trail


Raghav Sriram

According to Dan McFeely, president of the Carmel Historical Society, the Carmel Historical Society is in the designing phases of a new three-story museum it plans to build directly adjacent to the existing Monon Depot Museum on the Monon Trail.

“Last year, Clay Township, which is a government entity of the city of Carmel, decided to give us a grant for $4 million so that we could build what we are calling a museum,” McFeely said. “We hope to break down on the building sometime this spring. We think it will probably take a good solid year to build and then to get everything done on the inside. It’s going to be a long process, but good buildings take awhile and (the Carmel Historical Society) understands that.”

Matthew Snyder, Clay Township board member, said that as part of its Clay Township Impact Program, the Carmel Historical Society has been identified as an entity that serves the needs of all members of Clay Township and the city of Carmel. 

McFeely said, “As the Historical society we own the property and will own the property once it’s built, but it is really going to be a building for the people of Carmel which is why Clay Township and the City of Carmel is helping us build it because they realize it’s going to benefit everybody, not just visitors from out of town, but local residents as well.”

Snyder said this new museum will house office space for the Carmel Historical Society and offer a place to store historical archives.

“If you walk down the trail and you see the depot, right immediately south of the depot is an old house,” McFeely said. “We used that little house to store our archives, anything people would bring us, we would take it over there and store it. Over time the house got into pretty bad shape. We had leaks in the roof, there was evidence of mice, all kinds of nasty little problems and we finally made the decision about ten years ago where we thought, “Wouldn’t that be a great place to build a bigger archive?”

While the designing process of the museum is still underway, McFeely said the Carmel Historical Society has come up with a general layout of the museum.

“The first floor will be a grand lobby-type space that can be used for an exhibit, contain a gift shop and also have a little coffee shop. The second floor will serve as some office space to the historical society, but also a conference room that would be available to some of our local nonprofit groups that want a place to meet,” McFeely said. “The third floor would be for storage of our archives and we will have access to a rooftop garden up on the fourth floor which will be designed for some of our outdoor events that we have, but we would also make that space available to other groups for rent.”

McFeely said that the plan is to tear the house next to the depot down, take out some trees, and break ground on the construction of the museum sometime this spring.

Snyder said, “We want (the museum) to be a building that fits with the surroundings of midtown while continuing to pay homage to the original Carmel train depot which will remain next door.”

Sophomore Jordan Seigel said, “I think this is a good decision because if we truly want to remember the history (of Carmel) then having a museum that reflects our modern understanding of the world around us and how that applies to our city makes it an important thing to have.”

McFeely said, “We want to be the place for people to walk in, use a public restroom, grab a cup of coffee, grab some brochures to go out and enjoy the city of Carmel.”