The Long Road to Rehab
From roadside inn, to relocated residence, to threatened landmark, the American House hotel in Carroll County has remained connected to the road it was built to serve. Now with help from Indiana Landmarks, a local organization is restoring the hotel as a tribute to Indiana’s transportation heritage.
Built in 1848 to accommodate laborers laying planks on the trans-state Michigan Road, the American House hotel is an early example of the roadside architecture that sprang up to serve the expanding road system.
By 1853, the Michigan Road was complete and the Greek Revival-style house turned into a stagecoach stop for travelers, becoming known for the first time as the American House. The transition from horse-drawn transportation to automobiles towards the end of the nineteenth century prompted another transition for building — and a literal change in its course.
In 1904, workers moved the structure out of downtown Burlington to a lot six blocks north, where it served as a private residence and a rental property for nearly 100 years.
In more recent years, the landmark suffered from prolonged vacancy and neglect. When Promoting Wildcat Valley — a non-profit dedicated to preservation in the Wildcat Creek region of Carroll County — learned the historic hotel was threatened with demolition, members reached out to Indiana Landmarks’ Western Regional Office for help identifying possible preservation solutions. After a successful grassroots fundraising campaign, the group acquired the building.
Using a grant from Indiana Landmarks’ Partners in Preservation program, Promoting Wildcat Valley nominated the American House to the National Register of Historic Places. Another grant from our Efroymson Family Endangered Places program will help pay for a consultant to develop a preservation plan for the landmark. The plan will prioritize rehab work at the property, which the group plans to use as the American House Stagecoach Inn and Museum, sharing the history of the Wildcat Valley and Michigan Road Scenic Byway.
As Dann Keiser of Cornerstone Design completes the preservation plan, volunteers from Promoting Wildcat Valley have already begun tackling several projects at the building, including restoration of its original six-over-six wood windows.
To learn more about Promoting Wildcat Valley and the American House project, visit the group’s Facebook page. The group hosts monthly fundraising breakfasts, open to anyone who wants to support the project.
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