Historic hotels abound in Indiana, from those serving college campuses to luxury accommodations tucked into the state’s parks and national forests. Here are five historic hotels that range from charming boutiques in some of Indiana’s most historic towns to larger properties that once catered to the rich and famous.
The Morris Inn on the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, was built in 1952, funded in part by a $1 million donation from Ernest Morris, a former student who attended the school in 1902. Morris didn’t have enough money to continue paying tuition at the university so he asked the university’s president if he would allow him to continue on credit and also take care of Morris’ horse, Dexter. The president agreed. When Morris graduated, he founded an investment firm. He donated his first $1 million to the university because he never forgot how kind Notre Dame was to his horse.
The hotel, which underwent a $30 million renovation in 2015, has 150 guest rooms and 18 suites. Meeting groups wanting to tap into the history of the Morris Inn and visit the famed Catholic university can host meetings or events at the inn or Notre Dame Conference Center at McKenna Hall, which opened in 2021 and is connected to Morris Inn by a beautiful underground tunnel.
The inn has a 4,928-square-foot ballroom decorated with crystal chandeliers and encased in Notre Dame’s traditional colors, as well as three private dining rooms that feature large windows overlooking Notre Dame Avenue. The Conference Center has 30,000 square feet of space and the ability to host meetings for up to 300.
Fort Harrison State Park Inn
The historic Fort Harrison State Park Inn, the Fort Golf Resort and the Garrison Banquet and Conference
Center are nestled within the 1,700-acre Fort Harrison State Park in Lawrence. The historic buildings once served as part of Fort Benjamin Harrison, a military installation that opened in 1906 and operated until its decommissioning in 1991. The main lodge has 27 guest rooms and the Harrison House has 16. The Blue Heron Ballroom has banquet capacity of 320. It features multiple arched glass doors and chandeliers. The doors open onto the patio above the golf course’s practice green. Two smaller rooms in the conference center can accommodate groups up to 40 people.
The Roosevelt Room in the inn can host groups up to 100 people, and the Theodore Room in the main lodge offers quick access to the Inn’s outdoor fire pit and lounge area.
The French Lick Resort
Located 43 miles from Bloomington, Indiana, the French Lick Resort encompasses the historic French Lick Springs Hotel, built in 1901, and the West Baden Springs Hotel, built in 1902. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the resort is situated on 3,200 acres tucked among the hills of southern Indiana’s Hoosier National Forest. The historic AAA Four Diamond hotels feature three championship golf courses, a casino, two spas and more than 700 guest rooms.
The focal point of the luxurious West Baden Springs Hotel is a gorgeous atrium that spans 200 feet. The French Lick Resort Event Center has 105,000 square feet of event spaces, including 27 state-of-the-art meeting rooms for any size event. A 32,000-square-foot exhibition hall is attached to the event center and can accommodate 200 trade-show booths. The Hoosier Ballroom is the resort’s largest meeting space and can accommodate 2,500 theater-style and 1,260 for a banquet. The Windsor Ballroom can host 850 for a banquet, while Clifton Ballroom can seat 300.
The Pete Dye Pavilion is an indoor and outdoor space for 300 people overlooking the surrounding hills and golf course. The Pete Dye Mansion serves as an intimate space for luncheons and cocktail parties.
Situated on a three-acre campus in downtown Nashville, a quaint town in the heart of Indiana’s beautiful Brown County, Cornerstone Inn offers 39 accommodations, from standard queen rooms to premier suites and vacation homes. The property the inn sits on was purchased in 1939 by Frederic and Gladys Tilton, who had a tiny home at the end of Nashville’s West Main Street. Lot 10 was eventually deeded to Pam Gould, formerly a Tilton. In 1993, the property was cleared to build Cornerstone Inn.
Now the property has three cottage buildings that offer king suites, private porches and whirlpools. Two of the cottages can house 20 guests and one can serve up to 60. Cabin 360 is a completely renovated historic log cabin three blocks north of the center of Nashville.
The inn can host smaller groups for meetings, retreats or weddings. It has an outdoor courtyard with a fire pit next to the downtown area and a dining area that can be rented out. The lodge only sleeps seven, but it has an outdoor terrace near gardens that can host up to 50 people, using both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Charley Creek Inn
Charley Creek Inn in central Indiana combines a 1920s’ vibe with modern conveniences. The 30-room inn debuted in 1920 as Hotel Indiana. It was started by Service Motor Truck Company, which was seeking a high-class place for employees to stay and a place to host company events. Over the years, the property changed hands numerous times and was even converted into an efficiency apartment building at one time.
In 2007, a local philanthropist and historic preservationist bought and renovated the building. The exterior was restored to its historic appearance, and the interior was appointed with crystal chandeliers, period furniture and arched doorways. The original 80 rooms were converted to 21 enlarged guest rooms and nine suites.
The inn has more than 8,500 square feet of combined flexible meeting spaces that can host events up to 200 guests for conferences or breakout sessions. The Big Four Ballroom and Wabash Cannonball Room together have a capacity of 180, and the inn has several smaller rooms that can host groups of 10 to 40 people.