Howard Johnson's Bloomington Indiana
Postcard ca. 1970s: Kummerlowe Archive
Bloomington, Indiana -- 1722 N Walnut St

Convenient to Indiana University, the Bloomington Motor Lodge opened in about 1973 adjacent to a long established Howard Johnson's Restaurant that had begun serving patrons as early as 1961. While the Restaurant was a classic Nims derived building, the Motor Lodge itself was 1970s modern with an attached Mansard lobby and relatively compact three-story guest buildings.

After its HoJo's days, the Motor Lodge was stuccoed over and has served as a Comfort Inn, Ramada, and Country Hearth Inn.

Lobby card ca. 1970s: Kummerlowe Archive

Photos July 2004: Phil Edwards

Signs, Signs no where a Sign
Unfortunately for TETAS Corporation which owned the property in 2001, Bloomington had adopted "Scenic/Gateway Sign" regulations. You see, the owners of the Ramada had simply desired to reface the existing Comfort Inn signs--well according to Bloomington's oppressive, onerous, and tyrannical sign zoning, what the Ramada planned to do was illegal.

These laws are passed by localities with nothing better to do than to suppress and obstruct legitimate business concerns which rely on making themselves easily seen by passing motorists. Even though the zoning commission found "no injury to the public health, safety, or morals" with the Ramada's signs, it denied a variance request and insisted that the Ramada's existing 90 square foot sign be removed within ten days or the owners would be fined. The commission further recommended that the Ramada should erect at additional expense a nearly invisible single seven foot tall ground sign after it had paid for an impact study and permit for said sign. This type of ordinance and those that mandate look-a-like buildings serve to silence not just the visual delight of the roadside, but also serve to extinguish the creative entrepreneurial American Spirit.