Built in 1883, the Ziegler house, with its iconic and distinctive yellow exterior, white trim and peaked roofs, has long been intimately interwoven in the history of Bloomington itself. Now known as the Grant Street Inn and commanding an entire city block, the home originally belonged to William Rogers, Dean of the Indiana University School of Law. Other notable owners included William Graham, builder of the Graham Hotel and William N. Showers, owner of Showers Brothers Furniture Factory.
A century after these lofty beginnings, the Ziegler house had fallen on hard times. Divided into student apartments and positioned behind the First Presbyterian Church, preservationists feared the historic home would be torn down because the church needed more space. That’s when Bloomington Restorations approached Bill and Gayle Cook, founders of Cook Medical and CFC Properties as well as major benefactors of Indiana Landmarks, one of the premiere preservation societies in the country, for help.
Stepping up, as always, the Cook family purchased the house for $1, and moved it two and a half blocks east to its current location at 310 N. Grant Street. There the Ziegler house underwent restoration and was connected with the addition of a dining room to the Gilstrap house, another historic property.
The Grant Street Inn, considered one of Bloomington’s signature boutique establishments, transports visitors into an opulent and sumptuous Victorian past. Much of its marvelous detail work remains including the original parquet hardwood floor, hardwood trim, hand-carved rosettes and stair rail, a mosaic lobby fireplace and wrap around front porch. In a creative use of architectural detail, two pocket doors have been readapted as floor-to-ceiling headboards in Rooms 23 and 26. A photograph of actor Danny Glover, star of the film The Good Catholic, who stayed at the Inn in 2016 when filming nearby, hangs next to the fireplace.
Following the Grant Street Inn’s successful opening in 1991 which at the time had 14 rooms, nearby structures, today known as the Annex and Buttercup Cottage, were converted from apartments to additional guest rooms increasing the luxury room count to 24.
Among the first to Go Green, in 2012, the Grant Street Inn constructed the first LEED-certified building in Bloomington adding 16 rooms. The LEED building appeals to those who desire a more modern and eco-friendlier environment and is complete with a Tesla charging station, bicycle storage units, a fitness center, solar panels, water irrigation system, LED lighting, and much more. The newest structure remains true to the architectural integrity of the Ziegler house replicating its trim style, fish scale cedar shingles, two large front porches with rocking chairs, and of course, the iconic yellow exterior.
Woven into the Fabric of History
“We are a true representation of Bloomington and are deeply rooted in the community,” says Paul Wagoner, manager of the Grant Street Inn for 14 years.
Wagoner notes that many of their guests are Indiana University alumnus reconnecting to their past and enjoying the nostalgic experience of visiting their old stomping grounds. Others are parents of IU students, couples, business professionals and those who are attracted to Bloomington because of its vibrancy, beauty and plethora of activities. The Inn is within walking distance of Indiana University’s lovely campus, 4th Street’s ethnic restaurant scene, Kirkwood Avenue and the historic courthouse square lined with boutiques, art galleries, coffee shops, bookstores, and award-winning restaurants.
Voted as one of the Top 5 Food Towns in the Midwest, Bloomington offers more than 100 locally owned, chef-inspired restaurants. The city is also known for its cultural offerings including eclectic entertainment, cinema, museums, book events, and music venues. Short road trips wind along country roads to such delightful destinations as Nashville, Indiana with its charming Victorian downtown, Hoosier National Forest, Brown County State Park—the largest in the state, Lake Monroe and Lake Lemon.
“Many come during the holidays for the wonderful ambiance,” continues Wagoner. “Others look at the Grant Street Inn and Bloomington as a home away from home, and for some, triggering marvelous childhood memories.”
With its five buildings and 40 guest rooms, the Grant Street Inn offers unique experiences for all. Room styles range from victorian-chic, cozily chic to a modern, old-world elegance with no two alike. Some guests enjoy returning to their favorite room or building while others like to experience a new room each visit.
These are among the many reasons why the Grant Street Inn remains one of the most sought-after destinations despite the number of new and flashy chain developments which have opened recently.
Grant Street Inn will always be a traditional favorite of Bloomington’s p
ast, present, and future.
Once you stay, you’ll never want to leave.