Carter Building: A Field of Childhood Dreams

The Main Street of downtown Zionsville is known for its variety of niche businesses and charming eateries. The historic vibe of its brick-lined street shops is not broken up by the three-story brick structure known as the Carter Building. The building houses not only Carter’s Antique Toy Museum, but also a diner and an antique shop.

Well known for his family’s generosity and philanthropy, Robert Carter has always been in touch with his inner child. Having collected toys for a long time, put simply, he has accumulated a lot of stuff. And as anyone with a lot of stuff knows, one needs someplace to house all of their stuff. He also needed something to do. Having spent a career running a moving company and putting in subdivisions, he sought out new challenges and wasn’t going to let the current economic climate stop him.

The diner experience comes replete with 50s era deco, from neon lit signs to mini-jukeboxes along the counter. One of the signature pieces in the restaurant is the massive jukebox which sits in the corner under a Chicago Coin Box. Only made between 1950 and 1953 for taverns, the box opens into a stage for an orchestra band to play along to the chosen music selection. As the men were made of sponge rubber, they were prone to getting hot and ruined in taverns, so not too many survive.

The on-site Old Thyme Ice Cream Parlor is a child’s delight and Zionsville restaurant, but only the first stop for them. Next up is the museum, with plenty of toys to be gawked over. Children can marvel at toys as their parents recall their own childhood memories. There are also all manner of other coin operated ride-on toys and arcade games.

Last up is the antique store. Less kid friendly, as there is little they can touch without risk of breaking, aisles upon aisles are filled with everything among more antique toys to China and other fineries. A short drive north of Indianapolis, the Carter Building is a one-stop destination for Zionsville shopping for Zionsville children or adults.