Studying history is an important part of becoming an informed citizen and learning important skills like critical thinking, research, and analysis. Carmel, Indiana, is rich with history, and there are many historical sites in and around town that can help you and your family better connect with the area’s ancestors and refine those crucial skills. Plan a visit to these six historical sites in and around Carmel.
“conner park 156” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by Paul J Everett
Located in nearby Fishers is one of the most immersive local history experiences in the area. Conner Prairie is an outdoor museum with interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and special events that combine Indiana history and culture. Throughout the property, there are both indoor and outdoor experiences, including whole sections set in different time periods, like the 1830s Village of Prairietown, the Balloon Voyage in 1859, and the Civil War in 1863. In these areas, you can play period games, meet reenactors dressed in 1800s garb, climb aboard the Jupiter air balloon, and train as a Civil War soldier.
Other sections include the Treetop Quest where you can learn outdoor skills, get up-close-and-personal with Indiana’s native plants and creatures at the nature center, explore the treehouse, and enjoy the outdoors on the nature walk. The William Conner House lets you learn about the family who once lived on the property and were early settlers of the area. The Lenape Indian Camp has the whole family learn about the Lenape, or Delaware, people who lived in the area from 1795 to 1820.
Hours and admission prices vary by season. From late February to late March, Conner Prairie is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In early spring, the museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and through summer and fall, it’s open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cedar Chapel Covered Bridge
This bridge was built in 1884 by George Woerntz & Son, a prolific bridge constructor at the time. It originally sat above Cedar Creek in nearby DeKalb County, but was moved to make way for a new road being built over the creek. It sadly sat on the side of the road for a few years until Conner Prairie officials purchased the 124-foot-long bridge and moved it to the property in Hamilton County. In 2001, the Indiana Governor’s office awarded Conner Prairie a $240,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant so that the bridge could be restored for safe public use.
Now, Cedar Chapel Covered Bridge ushers people in from the Village of Prairietown, set in the mid-19th century, to the other side of Conner Prairie with features and exhibits set in the late 19th century. You can visit the Cedar Chapel Covered Bridge about a quarter-mile south of the entrance to Conner Prairie and experience a truly authentic glimpse of the past.
Ambassador House and Heritage Gardens
The Ambassador House is more than 170 years old, and it’s now an exquisite venue for special events. When it was first built, it was located on the northwest corner of 96th Street and Allisonville Road in Fishers, but it now calls Heritage Park home. The house’s style is late-19th century Greek Revival, lending to its charm. While the house itself is beautiful, the surrounding landscaped gardens make it a perfect location to take some family photos and learn about Indiana’s history at the same time.
This historical site is located at 10598 Eller Road in nearby Fishers.
Hamilton County Museum of History and Old Sheriff’s Residence and Jail
For a more traditional history outing, head to the Hamilton County Museum of History and Old Sheriff’s Residence and Jail. Here you can view artifacts like old newspaper clippings of important events and former citizens, war memorabilia like photos of local soldiers and period uniforms, old jail rooms with rusted beds and iron doors, and much more. This local museum also hosts special events, such as tours of the house, speakers, and memorial events.
Visit the Hamilton County Museum of History at 810 Conner St. in Noblesville. It’s open Thursday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. You can also visit until 7 p.m. two Saturdays a month.
Taylor Center of Natural History
The Taylor Center of Natural History is located at the Strawtown Koteewi Park in Noblesville. Here you can learn about the land’s ancient history and peoples. In the museum, you can view artifacts like arrowheads, pottery, and more found in and around the park by researchers over many years of discovery. In addition, the park and museum host special events to bring you closer to that history, including those that honor Native American history and explore the surrounding nature through the eyes of the past.
While Strawtown Koteewi Park is full of fun activities like hiking, fishing, archery, canoeing, and horseback riding, it also has a few unique features, like the Taylor Center, that allows you to explore and experience Indiana history and culture. Just outside the center is Koteewi Trace, an archaeological exhibit where you get to be inside a replica version of a Native American village, a recreation of the structures that used to stand in the area. There’s also a dig site where you can practice finding, preserving, and studying artifacts using the scientific method and actual archeological techniques.
The Taylor Center of Natural History is located at 12308 Strawtown Ave.
For even more historical sites in and around Carmel, consider taking a self-guided tour that pinpoints areas on the town’s map and provides blurbs and short videos to teach you about the history of the people and events that took place there. You can even see what these places looked like back in their heyday, including places that aren’t even there anymore.There you have it, five historical sites in and around Carmel that you and your family can check out. Did we miss any of your favorite historical sites in the area? Let Crème de la Crème of Carmel know, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list.