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History of Carmel, Indiana

To learn more about the history of Carmel, Indiana and Clay Township and see what events are planned by the Carmel Clay Historical Society, visit their page at

On April 13, 1837, John Felps (Phelps), Alexander Mills, Seth Green, and Daniel Warren, laid out the Town of Bethlehem. The plat contained a total of fourteen lots. The area, previously inhabited by Delaware (Miami) Indians, soon became inhabited by Quakers. Andrew Jackson was President of the United States at the time.

As a wilderness it was known for its fur trading. The first General Store was constructed in 1837. In 1845, a framed school house building was constructed near the Town's crossroads. In 1846, a Post Office was established. It was, at this time, the town residents were notified that the United States Post Office already had another town registered by the name of Bethlehem in Indiana. Consequently, in 1874, by a referendum vote of 33 in favor and 12 against, the town was officially incorporated and adopted the name "Carmel."

In 1882, rails of the Monon Railroad were laid through Carmel, and a depot was opened in 1883. The railroad depot remained open until 1974. The Carmel-Clay Historical Society is in charge of the restoration of the original depot.

In 1900, a shoot-out at the Jeffries Livery Barn took place. Officer William Frank Carey was killed. To date, Officer Carey, is the only law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.

In 1904, electricity was installed throughout Carmel.

In 1914, the Carmel Public Library was dedicated. It was built with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation for a total of $11,000.00. It was used until 1972 when it was purchased by the Town of Carmel, and then used for official offices and as a Courthouse.

In 1921, the Carmel Volunteer Fire Department purchased its first fire truck.

In 1924, Leslie Haines invented one of the Country's first automatic stop-and-go traffic signals. It was located at the intersection of Main Street and Range Line Road.

In 1930, a Water System was installed, and in 1933 a gas pipeline was installed.

In 1937, a Centennial celebration took place in Carmel. In 1962, Carmel celebrated its 125th anniversary with parades and street fairs.

In 1949, the Carmel Theatre opened. Ticket prices were 40 cents for adults and 20 cents for children. Candy bars were sold for a nickel each. The theatre was closed and razed by the City in 1984. In 1985, the "Downtown Park" was dedicated on the original site of the Carmel Theatre.

In 1958, a new high school was erected on East Main Street, for a total cost of $1,600,000.00. Additions to the high school were added in 1963, 1969, and 1977. The Carmel Elementary School was opened in 1961 and in 1964, the Carmel Junior High School was opened.

In 1965, Keystone Avenue (Route 431) was opened. This same year, the areas of Woodland Springs, Cool Creek, and Keystone Square, were annexed to Carmel, doubling the population. Carmel Library moved to larger building on Main Street.

In 1971, the Carmel Court was established. The Plan Commission was also expanded to fourteen members from Clay Township and seven from Carmel, that same year.

In November of 1974, a referendum took place as to whether Carmel should become a Fourth Class City. The residents voted in the affirmative.

In 1975, the first City Primary took place in Carmel. On January 1, 1976 the following City Officials took office:

Albert Pickett, Mayor
Peggy Smith, Clerk-Treasurer
Members of the Town Council: David Coots, Dr. Walter Dean, Minnie Doane, Jim Garrestson, Stan Meacham, Jane Reiman, Fred Swift.
Phil Correll, City Judge

CarmelIn December of 1976, the Carmel Symphony Orchestra presented its first concert.

In 1985, the Science and Technology Park opened at Meridian and 116th Streets. That same year, St. Vincent Carmel Hospital opened on North Meridian.

In 1986, the ground breaking took place for the Carmel Civic Square, with city offices being relocated during the years thereafter.

April 13, 1987 marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of Carmel. Today it is known for a heritage of culture and a rich tradition of State Championships of Athletic Teams. The new Carmel Civic Square has become the "showpiece of Georgian architectural splendor."

Since becoming classified as a City under the State laws of Indiana, the following public servants have served as Mayor of the City of Carmel:

Mayor Years of Service
Albert Pickett 1976 - 1979
Jane A. Reiman 1980 - 1983
Jane A. Reiman 1984 - 1987
Dorothy J. Hancock 1988 - 1991
Ted Johnson 1992 - 1995
James Brainard 1996 - 1999
James Brainard 2000 - 2003
James Brainard 2004 - 2007
James Brainard 2008 - 2011
James Brainard 2012 - 2015


  • New City Hall opened for business
  • City’s recycling center opens
  • Camel Parks and Recreation Department established


  • The Carmel Clay Plan Commission updated the second Comprehensive Plan
  • Crooked Stick Golf Club hosts PGA tournament


  • Carmel Arts Council founded
  • Carmel Community Players formed


  • Flowing Well Park Opens


  • First year Carmel earns Tree City USA designation


  • First year city earns Growth Award for going above and beyond the Tree City USA requirements
  • 96th Street bridge opens


  • Carmel Wastewater Treatment Plant Wins Best in its Class Award from Environmental Protection Agency
  • Hazardous Household Waste site opens


  • First section Hazel Dell Parkway opens from 96th Street to 116th Street
  • 126th Street extended
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant expanded, doubling its primary capacity to 12 million gallons per day
  • Main water station expanded
  • First International Arts Festival
  • City’s Farmers’ Market opens at Civic Center
  • Prairie Meadow Park opens


  • Children’s Art Gallery named smallest children’s art gallery by Guinness World Book of Records
  • Carmel Clay Library moves to new 116,000-square-foot facility at 4th and Main Streets
  • River Road Greenway opens


  • Second leg of Hazel Dell Parkway opens from 116th Street to 146th Street
  • New three-million-gallon water storage tank complete
  • First year city’s comprehensive annual financial report qualifies for a Certificate in Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting
  • Lawrence W. Inlow Park opens


  • Carmel Neighborhood Association Network formed
  • Carmel Police Bring Home Medals in World Police and Fire Games 2001
  • First buildings for City Center under construction—Schwinn bike shop and AMLI residential complex


  • West Park open
  • 5.2 mile Monon Trail opens from 96th Street to 146th Street


  • Lenape Trace Park opens
  • Founders Park master plan adopted
  • City completes largest annexation in its history


  • Grand Opening of Clay Terrace
  • AMLI buildings open at Old Town
  • Plans unveiled and approved for City Center
  • Inaugural "Tour de Carmel" cycling event
  • Groundbreaking for Freedom Circle at Veterans Memorial Plaza
  • Central Park Groundbreaking
  • American City Business Journal names Carmel one of the best places to live


  • Performing Arts Center approved by Carmel City Council
  • Arts & Design District Gateway Unveiling
  • Mayor Jim Brainard appointed Vice-Chair of U.S. Conference of Mayors Committee on Community Development and Housing
  • Mayor Brainard signs executive order requiring City replacement vehicles be able to use alternative fuels; City's first seven hybrid vehicles purchased
  • New two-million-gallon a day water tower built at Main Street and Shelborne Road
  • Water treatment plant at 126th and Hazel Dell Parkway expanded to process additional four million gallons of water a day


  • Carmel City Center breaks ground; project is public private partnership between City of Carmel and Pedcor Development Company
  • City Center Drive (126th) & Illinois Street roundabout opens
  • Carmel recognized as a Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists
  • Carmel takes ownership of Brookshire Golf Course
  • Keith Smith becomes Carmel's new Fire Chief
  • Carmel wins City Livability Award from U.S. Conference of Mayors for its roundabout program
  • Evan Lurie Gallery and Renaissance condominiums break ground in Arts & Design District
  • Carmel's enacts no smoking ordinance
  • Carmel Police Department begins Teen Police Academy program
  • Veterans Memorial Dedicated


  • Carmel City Center Theater breaks ground
  • Indiana Design Center breaks ground in the Arts & Design District
  • New updates unveiled for Carmel City Center
  • Japanese Garden breaks ground south of Carmel City Hall
  • Carmel receives Tree City USA Growth Award
  • Street Commissioner David Klingensmith retires
  • Carmel conducts special census, which show population as 68,677
  • Monon tunnel at 116th Street opens
  • Governor Daniels and Mayor Brainard announce agreement to transfer ownership of Keystone Avenue to the City of Carmel
  • New portion of Illinois Street open from 131st to 136th Street
  • Meteorological tower installed at wastewater treatment plant in Carmel
  • Evan Lurie Gallery celebrates its grand opening
  • Carmel Clay Veterans Memorial Corporation dissolves
  • Carmel adds 11 additional J. Seward Johnson statues to its public art program
  • David Huffman appointed new Street Commissioner


  • Carmel adds recycling facilities at Household Hazardous Waste Treatment Center
  • IndyGo launches Carmel express bus route to downtown Indianapolis
  • Carmel’s wastewater treatment process recognized by National League of Cities (NLC)
  • Carmel recognized as a finalist in the Home Depot Foundation and U.S. Conference of Mayors Third Annual Awards of Excellence for Community Trees
  • Carmel unveils final plans for 106th and 126th Street interchanges of the Keystone reconstruction plan
  • City of Carmel and Carmel Rotary Club host Group Study Exchange Team from Africa
  • Mayor Brainard unveils Carmel Access Bikeway plans
  • Keystone construction begins
  • Feinstein Foundation announcement that it will locate its museum collection in The Center for The Performing Arts
  • Carmel and Mayor Brainard awarded first place in the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Awards for the city’s roundabout program
  • Forbes Magazine names Hamilton County, IN “best place to raise a family” in the U.S.
  • Roundabout at 136th Street and Range Line Road opens to traffic
  • Mayor Brainard announces “no idling” policy for city vehicles
  • Carmel receives Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence for wastewater treatment process
  • Carmel named IACT Green Community
  • Carmel Redevelopment Commission honors Old Town Carmel landmarks with historic plaques
  • Carmel receives Indiana Water Environment Association Award
  • Grand Boulevard opens to traffic
  • Swearing in of Judge Brian Poindexter to the Carmel City Court


  • Construction begins on 136th and Keystone interchange
  • Mayor Brainard interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union” with John King
  • Historic Peele House moved and preserved in the Arts & Design District
  • Brookshire Golf Course is remodeled
  • Japanese Garden dedication held and celebration for 15th anniversary of Sister City relationship with Kawachinagano, Japan
  • 106th and 126th Street interchanges on Keystone Parkway open to traffic
  • Flowing Well Park dedicated to Gil Kett
  • Monon Bridge over Carmel Drive dedicated
  • Final Keystone bid brought project in under original estimate
  • Interchange at 136th Street and Keystone Parkway opens
  • Executive Director Steven Libman appointed to The Center for The Performing Arts
  • Software Engineering Professionals (SEP) announced that it will relocate to the theater building in Carmel City Center
  • Mayor Brainard interviewed on Belgian Public Television
  • City launches Carmel Access Bikeways program
  • Carmel featured on travel shows “Heartland Highways” and CNN’s “My City, My Secret”
  • Mayor Brainard recognized as “Elected Official of the Year” by the Hoosier Environmental Council
  • Mayor Brainard announces Advisory Commission on Human Rights
  • Carmel City Court announces participation in the Indiana Supreme Court Odyssey Records System


  • Interchange at 116th Street and Keystone Parkway opened to traffic
  • Concert Hall given the official name of “The Palladium”
  • 131st Street renamed Main Street throughout Carmel
  • Carmel Receives Excellence in GIS Award from the Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC)
  • Keystone Parkway project was the top award winner at the 2010 Engineering Excellence Awards Sponsored by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Indiana
  • Standard & Poor’s raised Carmel’s bond rating to AA+
  • City of Carmel and Carmel Rotary Club host Group Study Exchange Team from the Netherlands
  • Carmel was named 2010 Owner of the Year by Midwest Construction magazine
  • Hagan-Burke Trail dedicated
  • Mayor Brainard elected Trustee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors
  • Interchange at Main Street and Keystone Parkway opened to traffic
  • Carmel Recognized as 3CMA Savvy Award Winner for the Keystone Construction Website
  • Carmel Receives Outstanding Achievement Livability Award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors for its Class A Biosolids program
  • Drewry Simmons Vornehm announced that it will relocate its offices to the Hopper Building in Carmel City Center
  • Carmel Drive and Keystone Parkway interchange opened to traffic
  • Carmel Utilities received three awards from the Indiana Water Environment Association: Laboratory Excellence Award, Outstanding Device Award and Residuals Committee Biosolids Award
  • Carmel Tree Stars Day named Urban Forestry Project of the Year by the Indiana Urban Forest Council, Inc. (IUFC) and Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Community and Urban Forestry (CUF) program


  • Police Chief Mike Fogarty retires; Tim Green appointed new Police Chief
  • Mayor Brainard honored with the 2011 Public Leadership in the Arts Award by Americans for the Arts and the U.S. Conference of Mayors
  • The Palladium, the Studio Theater and the Tarkington Theater open at the Center for the Performing Arts
  • Mayor Brainard announces launch of Mayor’s Youth Council

For more information you can visit the Carmel Clay Historical Society