The story of the former Holiday Inn, former Days Inn, and current Undead hotel off I-65 is no great mystery.
It’s not haunted, it’s not the site of a mysterious murder, and it’s not the byproduct of a money laundering scheme gone bad. It’s just the abandoned Days Inn off Exit 178 in Battle Ground, Ind., near Lafayette: a four-story, 6.5 acre eyesore that produces more black mold than Swamp Thing’s jock strap.
I have driven past that decaying sprawl of a hotel hundreds of times. Each time I resolve to look up its history, which I immediately forget. This time I remembered and thought I’d share my findings…
When the Undead hotel, then known as the Holiday Inn North, opened in 1972, tourists admired the relatively high-end accommodation for the area, combining a conference center with upscale (sort of) hotel amenities in one package. The hotel’s indoor pool stood out as especially unique, since few hotels in the state sported such a novelty in the 1970s. For thirty years, business thrived. In 2001, Holiday Inn built a newer, swankier hotel just six miles away, and sold the aging hotel to Days Inn.
Unfortunately, Days Inn only squeezed two mediocre years out of the Undead hotel. A 2003 county inspection unearthed a laundry list of structure concerns, namely sagging rafters, a leaking roof and colonies of black mold (so much mold!).
All big ticket repairs.
Days Inn washed its hands of the hotel and by 2003, everyone left. Literally. Just walked away. Beds had been made, hallways were vacuumed, but no effort had been made to salvage any of the hotel’s property or contents, or even put it on the market (that part of the story has a Roanoke Island-vibe to it).
A year later, an Illinois-based real estate company bought the hotel and its acreage for a little over half a million. Considering the Undead hotel’s location (busy interstate off a well-used exit), that price was a steal. But the new owners surprised everyone by doing nothing with it, just like its previous owners. They put up a few NO TRESPASSING signs, jiggled the locks and walked away.
In fifteen years, the hotel has seen no maintenance, no cleanup. The only visitors to the Undead hotel has been a steady stream of the elements, vagrants, vandals and urban explorers…along with the occasional police cruiser. I have to admit, some of the videos of those brave enough to wander its hallways are entertaining. Hat’s off to those who can tolerate the smell.
Since the hotel fell under the town of Battle Ground’s domain, officials there attempted to levy fines and charges against the new owners to spur development or demolition. All tickets were returned, undeliverable. They couldn’t imagine a company that would fork out a half million and just let a structure rot. The only response from the Illinois real estate company was a payment of back taxes in 2013, two days before the property was to be sold (for $200,000 this time).
The real victim of the Undead hotel is the town of Battle Ground. It’s a nice place, but its most visible monument is a bloated corpse of a hotel gawked at by thousands of drivers daily. The town’s hands remain tied. Estimates place the property’s current worth at $1.1 million dollars, but demolition and cleanup costs carry a price tag of around $1 million. Not a good bet for a small Indiana town.
But enough is enough. In June of 2018, Battle Ground filed a lawsuit against the abandoned Days Inn’s current (and silent) owners to tear down the hazardous structure. Living up to their name, Battle Ground likely plans on seeing the Undead hotel exorcised this time.
*In March of 2019, bulldozers finally flattened the hotel. The only salvage recovered was the piles of limestone gravel. The rest disappeared into a landfill.