1960s Expansions

The 1960s were a period of expansion for the museum, with a number of structures being added to the growing campus. The first was the Dreyer Building.

Dreyer Building

A 12,000-square-foot facility that combined a ground-floor commercial garage and second-floor apartments, the Dreyer Building stood at the corner of Illinois and 30th streets behind the Parry house, home of The Children’s Museum. When it went up for sale in 1959, the museum’s board took notice, though the asking price of $60,000 was more than the organization could afford. Enter trustee Ruth Lilly, who stepped forward to loan the museum $55,000, interest free.

Hall of Man

With Mrs. Lilly’s funds in hand, the museum was able to buy the Dreyer Building and begin working with architect and trustee R. F. Daggett on remodeling plans. By tearing down the Parry carriage house and building an extension that connected the existing museum facilities with the Dreyer building, Daggett created a large new gallery called the Hall of Man, as well new offices and craft rooms.

The Hall of Man, which featured exhibits based on the museum’s collections of regional, national, and international artifacts, opened in April 1961. But the Dreyer Building conversion was delayed when costs exceeded expectations. Once again Ruth Lilly stepped in, offering a no-interest loan of $28,000, exactly what the project required.

Transportation Gallery

The result was the conversion of a large portion of the Dreyer Building was into the museum’s transportation gallery, which focused on such artifacts as the circa-1891 Black automobile, a one-cylinder gasoline-powered car built by Indianapolis carriage-maker Charles Black. By October 1962 when that gallery opened, the museum had tripled in size, giving it much needed space for exhibits and storage—the latter being especially important since it need ample space to catalog, conserve, and store its ever-expanding collection.

The remaining space in the Dreyer Building’s first floor was used for storage, while the second floor became the site of an annual haunted house hosted by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Guild.

Log Cabin

An addition to the collection and the campus came in 1959 when trustee Reily Adams, who was married to one of museum founder Mary Carey’s granddaughters, donated a 130-year-old log cabin. The cabin, which stood on land north of Indianapolis that Adams had bought from former museum benefactor William Rockwood, was carefully dissembled and the whole Lincoln Logs-like pile trucked to the museum. Once on-site the cabin was rebuilt—each log had been numbered to make reassembly easier—with the finished cabin opening to the public in September 1961.

Train Shed

The final addition to the museum’s growing collection of buildings came in 1968 when the museum erected a 30-by-72-foot metal pole barn at the northwest corner of its grounds. It was built to house the Reuben Wells, a 55-ton, 100-year-old locomotive that once pushed trains up a steep incline outside of Madison, Indiana. Refurbished, along with a companion tool car, by the Penn Central Railroad, the Reuben Wells was moved into its new home in May 1968.

An aerial view of the museum campus about 1968. Parry House, the museum’s home until 1975, is the first home from the left. Next to Parry House is the Rauh Library, a branch of the Indianapolis Public Library that would be torn down for the 1976 building. Behind Parry House are a cluster of buildings that included the Hall of Man, the Log Cabin, the train shed that sheltered the Reuben Wells, and the Dreyer Building.