In 1970, Al and Helen Kogan moved into a home located at 175 South Main Street in Zionsville – the site of what is now the Brick Street Inn. The Kogans’ son Drew was in the seventh grade when the family first took residence, and he recalls that when they bought the home, it had seen better days.
“It had been a rental and was in bad shape,” Kogan says. “We turned it into a home.”
Not only did the structure undergo extensive renovations, but Helen also decked it out with 18th-century antiques. The home’s simple elegance landed it in a number of decorating magazines. As a result, it attracted the attention of some big names like Tasha Tudor, an illustrator and author of children’s books, and Liberace, the famous pianist, singer and actor. Both of them toured the stunning home when they visited the area.
“It really stood out,” says Kogan, who now lives next door. “I’m pretty sure we’re the only family around here who has lived on Main Street for 50 years.”
After his parents sold the house it sat empty for a while, then was sold six times according to Kogan.
“Everybody had big dreams for the place, but I guess they didn’t work out,” he says.
In the 1980s the building became the Brick Street Inn. Acquired by local businessman Bill Fanning in the early 2000s, he completely renovated and expanded it. Today only 10% of the original structure remains.
The Brick Street Inn houses the Auberge Restaurant & Bar, which offers French-inspired cuisine for brunch and dinner, made from local ingredients.
“Prior to the restaurant and bar, there was a linens shop in that space,” says Paul Vezolles, who purchased the inn 10 years ago. “Mr. Fanning’s daughter Colleen ran the shop for years.”
Vezolles decided to purchase the Brick Street Inn in August of 2010 because he adored the town, Main Street and the village atmosphere.
“The village is a destination in and of itself,” he says. “Zionsville is one of the most charming small-town centers you’ll find in central Indiana.”
Vezolles appreciates that the boutique inn offers all of the professional services one would expect with a high-end hotel, yet on an intimate scale. It’s also a great location for banquets, weddings and corporate events, as there are two separate meeting rooms – the Chautauqua Room and the William Zion Library – that can be combined into a single space. The spaces can accommodate groups of eight to 80 people for private events.
“People come to us for weddings, baby showers, family reunions and funerals,” Vezolles says.
Folks are attracted to the Brick Street Inn for a variety of reasons. Some are business travelers who enjoy an alternative to corporate chain hotels. Runners can wake up in the morning, lace up their shoes and be running nature trails within minutes. Others book the inn for a getaway weekend, to partake in all of the shops and restaurants that are mere steps from the inn. There’s also the pull of nature.
“We’re 100 yards from Lions Park and a quarter-mile from Elm Street Green,” Vezolles says. “Both will take you down onto the banks of Eagle Creek. There’s also Creekside Nature Park.”
Vezolles’ favorite feature of the inn is the patio, which offers abundant shade during the day and festive lighting in the evenings. In addition, the facility offers live music on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, featuring classical guitar, violin, harp, piano, and even hammered dulcimer.
“We pride ourselves on doing a nice mix of performing artists and offering something different than what you find everywhere else,” Vezolles says.
The facility experienced very low occupancy for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Vezolles has seen a significant increase in occupancy in recent weeks, however.
“There’s obsessive-compulsive cleaning, availability of hand sanitizer, physical distancing requirements, and all staff is wearing masks,” says Vezolles, noting that the inn is also operating at reduced capacity to give guests plenty of room.
Despite the challenges of this year, Vezolles thoroughly enjoys working in the hospitality industry.
“I love the fact that I’m helping people have a good time,” he says. “Our job is to take people out of their normal, humdrum, day-to-day stuff and give them an enjoyable experience – from relaxing on the patio with a glass of rosé or enjoying a good meal, to visiting with friends, families or business associates.”
Vezolles has plans to expand the inn, which would dramatically increase space for private events and meetings as well as the number of rooms and amenities. He hopes to begin the main part of the project during the first half of next year.
Brick Street Inn is located at 175 South Main Street in Zionsville. For more information, call 317-873-1900, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit brickstreetinn.com.