BUILT FOR LOVE.
Saved because of a dream.

OUR STORY BEGINS

BLOOMINGTON’S SIGNATURE BOUTIQUE INN

From well-known to historical names such as the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to your favorite Hollywood and Netflix Celebrities and other travelers alike worldwide, the Grant Street Inn has been welcoming many guests through its doors for 30 years.

Like all romances, the inn’s story begins with love. Out of the five buildings that make up the inn, the group’s star is The Zeigler House. William Rogers built The Zeigler House as a gift for his lovely bride, Belle, in 1883. William was a prominent Bloomington attorney who later became the dean of Indiana University and Cincinnati University law schools. 

Charles and Martha Ziegler bought the house in 1944. Following Mr. Ziegler’s passing in 1987, the First Presbyterian Church gained ownership.

By 1989, the establishment served as a 7-apartment student rental house. When the church began to expand its facilities without making plans to preserve the house, concerned university students living in the house collected 200 signatures on a protest petition. Bloomington Restorations, Inc. approached Bill and Gayle Cook, founders of Cook Medical and CFC Properties, who agreed to save and relocate the house.

The Cook family purchased the house for $20 and moved it one and a half blocks east to its current location at 310 N. Grant Street, Bloomington, Indiana. For Bloomingtonians, seeing the phenomenon of a 70-ton house being transported one and a half blocks was quite the spectacle. Even if they missed it in person, it made news headlines! For more insight on the effort it took to move the grand house, we highly suggest watching our 30th-anniversary video.

By 1990, The Ziegler House underwent renovation. Through preservation efforts, the original parquet hardwood floor remains, along with two pocket doors that now serve as floor-to-ceiling headboards in rooms 23 and 26. The original trim, rosettes, stair rail, and wrap-around porch remain, as well. The breezeway was added to connect The Ziegler House to The Gilstrap House, including a large deck just on the east side of the breezeway.

"Seeing the house go from the condition it was in from when we purchased the property to relocating it, and seeing its overall transformation was quite remarkable...

… It’s interesting to think back about The Ziegler House and realize what used to be a residence later became apartments, which then transformed into a Bed and Breakfast. That vision has been very rewarding given that the inn has been able to serve the community for the past 30 years. It’s a testament to Bill Cook, Steve Ferguson, and the teams who worked on the project – all did an amazing job,” Jim Murphy, President of CFC Properties.

On May 1, 1991, the Grant Street Inn opened with 14 rooms.

An article in the Indiana Daily Student, captured Maria Fears, Innkeeper of the Scholars Inn, sharing it,

“resembles a small upscale European Hotel,”

while the former Innkeeper, Mark Kraner, shared,

“We’re a whole different market. Our audience is different. Their expectations are different… More people are going to Bed and Breakfasts because they’re unique.”

Following successful years, in 1995, the inn expanded by renovating two nearby buildings that were being used for apartments. This allowed the inn to increase their guest rooms to 24. Today, those structures are known as The Dargan House and The Buttercup Cottage.

Bill Cook use to share that saving historic structures not only reconnects us with our heritage, it also helps spur economic development and community revitalization. 

In 1925 while the mission for racial integration was underway at Indiana University’s (IU) Bloomington campus, Sam Dargan, the first African American graduate of the IU School of Law, offered private housing for black women. The establishment was known as the “Dargan House.” By October of 1949, IU’s campus successfully established integrated residence halls for women. It has been said, that Sam occupied The Buttercup Cottage while renting out The Dargan House, although no records have been uncovered to confirm. 

“These are not just buildings that we built in this neighborhood and made into a hotel. We saved these structures; we saved this part of Bloomington’s history. There was a reason to save this property. These are not just buildings. They each have a story,"

Paul Wagoner, 18-year Hospitality Manager of the Grant Street Inn.

In 2012, the inn decided to veer from its renovation norm and boldly construct the first LEED-certified building of its kind in Bloomington – The Hoosier House. According to Walter Havighurst, author of The Heartland book, a “Hoosier” refers to Indiana people, friendliness, neighborliness, and idyllic contentment with Indiana landscape and life. 1

The eco-friendly house is equipped with a Tesla charging station, bicycle storage units, fitness center, solar panels, water irrigation system, LED lighting, and much more. While it boasts a sustainable vibe, its structure mirrors the original Ziegler House by replicating its similar trim style, fish scale cedar shingles, two large front porches with rocking chairs, and of course, radiates the iconic yellow exterior.

During the same year, the large deck on the east side of the breezeway, between The Ziegler and Gilstrap Houses, was removed and reconstructed into today’s charming dining room. Daily, the dining area provides fresh coffee, hot tea, and homemade breakfast.

Today, the inn is referred to as Bloomington’s signature boutique inn because of its significant historical ties to the community. The establishment occupies an entire block of Grant Street, between 7th and 8th, showcasing its unmistakable, iconic yellow exterior.

Many come for the nostalgic experience, claiming it’s a ‘home away from home’ that triggers a childhood memory or two. An IU Alumni group eager to reminisce their old stomping ground, or former IU students, now parents, looking to visit their student on campus. While others come to embrace the boutique lifestyle by enjoying our one-of-a-kind atmosphere and personalized customer service, along with the local flair, artisan drinks and food, and much more.

The Grant Street Inn offers a unique ambiance – 5 buildings with 40 different rooms offering 40 different experiences. The rooms range in style from victorian-chic to modern, old-world elegance. Guests enjoy discovering their favorite room and building. This is a place to embrace the boutique lifestyle and historical charm of Bloomington. Once you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

Source:
1. Indiana Historical Society, “What is a Hoosier”, 
https://indianahistory.org/stories/what-is-a-hoosier/, accessed March, 2021.

Photos:
1. William P. Rogers,
Courtesy of the Indiana University Archives.

2. William M. Graham,
Courtesy of the Monroe County History Center Collection.

3. William N. Showers,
Courtesy of the Monroe County History Center Collection.

4. Samuel S. Dargan,
Courtesy of the Indiana University Archives.