(Mar. 5, 1859-June 14, 1938). Born in Greensburg, Indiana, Mary Stewart Carey and her family moved to Indianapolis in 1862, where her father, Daniel Stewart, founded the Stewart Glass Company. Except for attending a private high school out east, she lived in Indianapolis for the rest of her life.

A two-story Gothic revival house.
Carey House, the second location of The Children’s Museum, ca. 1920s Credit: Indiana University Indianapolis View Source

In 1879, she married John N. Carey, who then became president of STEWART-CAREY Glass Company. Mary traveled the world extensively, bringing ideas and artifacts back to Indianapolis. It is thought that John C. Olmsted, an associate in the famed Frederick Law Olmsted firm, designed her formal garden, and her home was an important gathering place for leading socialites during the first quarter of the 20th century.

Carey was responsible for the legislative approval of the state flag and helped to choose its design. She is best known as the founder and benefactress of several local institutions. She let the privately run Orchard Country Day School use her orchard for their first home. After a visit to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in 1924, she spearheaded efforts to found the children’s museum of Indianapolis. She was elected chairperson of the original organizational committee, was its first board of trustees president, and remained a board member until her death. Her Meridian Street mansion housed the museum from 1927 to 1946.

A large, modern, irregularly-shaped building with a glassed entryway under an arched opening.
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, ca. 1989 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Active in many civic and philanthropic organizations, Carey held leadership positions in the Propylaeum, Women’s Rotary Club, Christamore House, Dramatic Club, Garden Club, Civic Theatre, and both local and national branches of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also collected art, especially Indiana artists, and donated 12 paintings to the John Herron Art Museum.

Revised March 2021

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