by JANA WILSON
The staff at the Grant Street Inn, Bloomington’s historical 40-room bed and breakfast, still remembers when the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg stayed there. Each morning, she requested coffee and a bran muffin for breakfast.
The Grant Street Inn, which occupies an entire block of Grant Street, was once the historic Ziegler House, built in 1883 behind the First Presbyterian Church. It was purchased by Bill and Gayle Cook in 1991 and moved a block and a half to its current location at 310 N. Grant St. to prevent it from being torn down. Today, the inn is owned by CFC Properties, the real estate arm of Cook Group.
In addition to Justice Ginsberg, the inn has hosted several Nobel Prize winners, authors, and a smattering of well-known celebrities, like Elizabeth Rodriguez (Orange is the New Black).
The bulk of the guests, however, are connected to Indiana University, says Manager Paul Wagoner. Whether it’s visiting scholars, alumni, or parents, the university has played a key part in keeping the Grant Street Inn lively and flourishing.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic dampening the businesses of small tourist-based companies and preventing large university gatherings like graduation and sporting events, the future of the Grant Street Inn is uncertain. In early 2020, the inn shut down to accommodate the statewide lockdown orders. After reopening in July 2020, the inn closed a second time in January due to a lack of reservations.
While plans call for the inn to reopen in May of this year, Wagoner says they will have to wait to see how many reservations are on the books before deciding to delay their re-opening or close permanently. “A lot has to do with what the university does,” he explains. “Is spring and summer at the university going to be as quiet as last year? We’ll have to see.”
Over the years, the inn has grown as adjacent buildings were converted into more guest rooms. In 2012, CFC added on an environmentally friendly LEED-certified building complete with a Tesla charging station, solar panels, a water irrigation system, and LED lighting.
The inn has made a number of adjustments due to the pandemic, including requiring temperature checks for all guests before entering and checking in, and plexiglass shields at the front desk. The dining area, which features a hydroxyl generator to purify the air, has fewer tables, and instead of a buffet, employees now serve guests cafeteria style.
For more information or to make a reservation, visit grantstinn.com.