Although it’s heartbreaking to think about the buildings and businesses that have been lost over the years in Indianapolis, it is still exciting to discover a long lost building for the first time. Interstate 65 looms over the area just north of downtown. The elevated highway acts as a barrier between downtown’s Saint Joseph Historic Neighborhood and the Old Northside. Many of us have no recollection of the area prior to the construction of the highway. During the mid-twentieth century, many historic homes, apartments, and businesses were lost so that– in theory– thousands could scurry through town without stopping. One of these lost businesses that seems to have been forgotten was hotel and restaurant combo, The Graylynn.
Situated at 1043 North Pennsylvania Street, The Graylynn stood alongside elite company. Across the street and immediately to the north were the mansions of Albert E. Fletcher and Booth Tarkington. To the south was the home of Ovid Butler Jameson.
The hotel featured a sprawling two-story complex that took up two lots once occupied by single residences prior to its 1922 construction. The hotel was developed by Lynn B. Millikan, a general contractor who came to Indianapolis in 1882. Initially, the hotel was advertised as a “residential hotel.” These were popular during the 1920s, offering amenities such as restaurants and daily maid service to longer term residents. Rates for a fully furnished room started at eighteen dollars for a week and seventy five dollars for an entire month. Fletcher operated two other similar style properties including the Hotel Barton on Delaware, and the Plaza Hotel on Indiana Avenue.
By the mid twentieth century, an updated hotel greeted the traveling public. The brick façade was whitewashed, the Butler-Jameson mansion was demolished for parking, and a modern restaurant called The Blue Room served steaks and seafood in an elegant setting. Now catering to the overnight crowd, the property advertised itself as the Graylynn Motor Hotel.
The updated version of the Graylynn was not long for this world. According to city and travel directories, the hotel was demolished sometime in 1966. The last found advertisement for The Blue Room restaurant was in June of that year. That is consistent with the demolition of La Rue’s Supper Club, housed in the former Albert Fletcher mansion. Today’s 11th Street serves as an on-ramp for the interstate and motorists drive directly through the site of the former hotel daily.
What places or memories do you have of old haunts removed for the construction of our downtown interstates?
Indianapolis Star: May 30th, 1923
Polk’s Indianapolis City Directory, 1965, 1966, 1967