Indianapolis Indiana Howard Johnson's
Postcard ca. 1960s: Kummerlowe Archive
Brochures ca. 1960s: Dan Donahue
Indianapolis-Downtown, IN
 -- 501 W Washington St

Located near Indiana's State Capitol and opened in 1966, the Indianapolis-Downtown Howard Johnson's complex featured an 8-story high-rise main building highlighted by a signature A-frame Gate Lodge canopy marking its lobby entrance (the last A-frame Gate Lodge canopy standing was located at Southington, CT). In addition to its lobby, the property's Restaurant was also in the main high-rise building at ground level.

The ultra-modern facility also featured a more traditional Motor Lodge wing which offered three floors of guest rooms and was attached to the main high-rise.

Above: In-the-building Restaurant with its late 1970s decor.
Below: View from across the street was taken from what had been the 129 room Indianapolis-Downtown Holiday Inn located at 500 W. Washington St.

Photos July 2004: Phil Edwards

Prior to the end of its days as a Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge, Downtown had been owned by a group of local investors headed by Sam Smulyan. In late 1986 Mr. Smulyan's estate sold the property to Whiteco Industries which is controlled by billionaire Dean V. White. Not long into his ownership, White converted the HoJo's into a Ramada. However the franchise agreement was for only five years, and after the term expired the facility was stucco-streamlined and remade into a Courtyard by Marriott.

Having begun its business as an outdoor advertising concern in 1935, White Industries set a new course for itself in 1985 when it created White Lodging. Based in Merrillville, IN, White describes itself as a fully integrated hotel ownership, development, and operating company.

Brochure ca. 1960s: Dan Donahue
Photos July 2004: Phil Edwards
Photos ca. 2000s: Google Maps-Street View

Marriott Place Indianapolis...

In the midst of the middle 2000s credit bubble and centering on the former Howard Johnson's-Downtown, White Lodging announced one of the most ambitious hotel development schemes ever concocted for Indianapolis--Marriott Place. Billed as "a one-of-a-kind, highly-anticipated collection of five Marriott properties all connected to the Convention Center and to each other, the complex will feature a 297-room Courtyard, 156-suite SpringHill Suites and 168-room Fairfield Inn & Suites." But the pièce de résistance will be the site's JW Marriott Hotel. With 34-floors, and standing 375 feet tall, the JW Marriott tower will be the tallest hotel in Indianapolis. Its amenities will include a whopping 1005 luxurious guestrooms and the largest ballroom/meeting facility in the mid-West. The project's costs are expected to exceed $450 million!

Slated to re-open in February 2010 and largely shunted aside, the former HoJo's (at least the high-rise section) will lose its Courtyard status and be rebaged as Marriott Place's Fairfield Inn & Suites.

Photo July 2004: Phil Edwards