Bloomington’s signature boutique inn embraces a mixture of historical and green construction. The property spans over a city block between 7th and 8th Streets and is comprised of five buildings. The prime jewel that led to the development of the historical hotel is The Zeigler House, built by William Rogers in 1883. William was a prominent Bloomington attorney who later served as the dean of Indiana University and Cincinnati University law schools.
In 1944, Charles and Martha Ziegler bought the house, and following Charles passing in 1987, the First Presbyterian Church gained ownership. The house was eventually converted into a seven-apartment student rental. When the church began to expand its facilities without making plans to preserve the house, the concerned residents took it upon themselves to form a petition of protest supported by 200 signatures.
Catching the attention of Bloomington Restorations, Inc, a non-profit dedicated to preserving historic architecture and old neighborhoods in Bloomington and Monroe County, they approached Bill and Gayle Cook, founders of Cook Medical, a global medical device manufacturing company, and CFC Properties, a real estate development and property management company, who agreed to save and relocate the house. Without a plan for the house, they purchased it for $20 and had the 70-ton structure relocated one and a half blocks east to its current location at 310 N. Grant Street.
Jim Murphy, President of CFC Properties, shared…
“I remember sitting on five-gallon buckets inside of The Ziegler House after the move with Bill Cook and Steve Ferguson (CFC’s first President) asking the question, “well, now that we’ve saved it, what are we going to do with it?” Which was Bill’s ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ mentality. That was a fun process to go through.”
After some discussion, it was concluded that since CFC owned the Little Peddler, a 5-room bed and breakfast, they would do something similar with the Ziegler House. The exterior of the house was preserved while its interior was renovated to accommodate the new business venture. The house was also connected to the Gilstrap House (south of the Ziegler House) by a breezeway.
Jim reflected more and said…
“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.”
On May 1, 1991, the Grant Street Inn opened as a bed and breakfast with 14 rooms. The new bed and breakfast was referred to as appearing similar to an upscale European hotel and went on to attract many visitors. Its success led to an expansion in 1995. CFC renovated two nearby properties, The Dargan House and The Buttercup Cottage, which contributed ten additional guest rooms. Given that the bed and breakfast had reached 24 rooms, it began being referred to as an inn. The Dargan House and The Buttercup Cottage have historical ties to Samuel S. Dargan, the first African American graduate of the IU School of Law, who offered private housing for black women.
Bill Cook used to share that saving historic structures not only reconnects us with our heritage, it also helps spur economic development and community revitalization.
By 2012, there were no more structures to renovate that would allow for a sizable growth opportunity, so CFC Properties decided to build the first LEED-certified building of its kind in Bloomington – The Hoosier House. The house is located catty-corner across the street from The Ziegler House. Its unmistakable iconic yellow exterior radiates and replicates similar characteristics of The Ziegler House. Its equally eco-friendly features include a Tesla charging station, bicycle storage units, fitness center, solar panels, water irrigation system, LED lighting, and much more.
Today, the Grant Street Inn, a historic boutique hotel, offers a unique ambiance with five buildings and 40 different rooms. The rooms range in style from victorian-chic to modern, old-world elegance. The hotel continues to welcome guests, including celebrities, from across the world. The Grant Street Inn has been awarded many awards since opening its doors, including being named one of Indiana’s Best “Unique Sleeps” in 2020 by Visit Indiana.