100 years after its construction, the Elkhart hotel is ready to welcome its guests


ELKHART – After more than two years of painstaking renovations, the historic Hotel Elkhart is ready to give the public a taste of what an upscale hotel would have been almost a century ago.

Built in 1923, the imposing brick building at 500 S. Main Street was used as a hotel until the early 1970s and hosted famous guests, such as longtime television personality Ed Sullivan, according to Kimberly. Christner, President and CEO of Cornerstone Hospitality.

But more recently the building has been used for offices and then apartments as downtown hotels have fallen out of favor. And Christner said he was falling apart.

With renewed interest in renovating the downtown core, the old hotel was spotted as a gem in the rough by Cressy Commercial Real Estate and Mno-Bmadsen, the non-gaming investment arm of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians.

The two joined forces to undertake the $ 19 million renovation as well as an injection of funds through the regional cities initiative and federal and state tax credits.

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A wide variety of artisans were needed to restore the Elkhart Hotel to its former glory.

The Pokagon Band got involved in the project because they are interested in helping preserve the history of the region and wanted to help catalyze the rebirth of downtown Elkhart, said Julio Martinez, CEO of Mno Bmadsen. , which means the right way.

Cressy officials had similar sentiments and pointed out that the city center hotel is needed to support other developments in the area, such as the Lerner Theater, as well as the new aquatic center, apartments and shops that flourish in the city center.

Due to the cost of the project, it was necessary to involve many different entities.

“Projects like this make no sense without a public-private partnership, as well as federal and state tax credits for renovating historic buildings,” said Christner, who oversaw several of these renovations. “They take too long to complete and are more expensive. ”

Due to the historic character of the building, it was necessary to bring in craftsmen to restore the terrazzo floors, redo the ornate plaster moldings and restore the marble staircase, among other things. But while it’s true to the past, it’s also completely modern with large rooms around 400 to 550 square feet, Christner said.

The 93-room hotel also includes a restored ninth-floor ballroom called the Aria, a rooftop bar called High Note, and meeting spaces, such as the Lyric and the Prelude, in reference to the Elkhart Jazz Festival and back in the days when the city was known as the maker of musical instruments for the nation.

A moose light fixture inside the Corner Bar at the Elkhart Hotel on Monday, September 27, 2021, in downtown Elkhart.  There are links to the history of the city almost everywhere inside the historic hotel.

The images inside and outside the building are also linked to the city’s performing arts history, and Christner hopes guests and performers at the nearby Lerner Theater will use the hotel when they arrive. in town for shows.

“This was undertaken with the intention of preserving and bringing attention to the history of the community,” said Christner, who has spent much of the past two years overseeing the project. While the era of musical instruments may take center stage, there will also be touches that reflect the days when Miles Laboratories was the city’s main employer and, more recently, when the RV industry grew. King.

“This community has an incredible diverse and entrepreneurial history,” she said.

Rates will adjust to seasonal demand, but will range from around $ 148 for a single room to $ 363 for a large suite. Christner pointed out that the hotel is already around 75% full for this weekend’s Notre Dame football game, suggesting that some people will be willing to drive for around half an hour to stay at a historic boutique hotel .

While the locals might not have a reason to spend the night at the hotel, it does include a few restaurants and a local bar that can be enjoyed by anyone wishing to take a look around the area. renovated property.

Christner said she believes the hotel will also be a popular location for those looking for a venue for wedding receptions and other special events.

“It will definitely provide one of the finest experiences in the region,” she said.

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