Spring Mill Inn in 2015. Inset: Construction in 1937-38.
Spring Mill Inn, located at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, was constructed in 1937-38 and opened to the public in 1939. The men of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) assisted with excavating and landscaping and built the road to the inn and an adjacent parking lot. This 73-room inn is well-loved by guests who have traveled to visit the park for generations with their families and by Lawrence County residents who enjoy the dining room and community meeting space. The inn is structurally sound but after 83 years in operation, it is due for significant mechanical modernizations that will require temporary complete closure of the facility, including the Millstone Dining Room, conference facilities, and overnight lodging. This information sheet gives an overview of the project and answers some of the questions guests, community members and staff may ask.
- What is the inn’s renovation history?
The inn’s east wing with lodging rooms was added in the 1960s. The pool & Lakeview Room were constructed in 1977. The parking deck was also built in 1977-78. Renovations to make some rooms more accessible took place in the early 2000s. Other minor improvements, ranging from electrical work to new chillers and boilers, have been completed through the years as needed. Room furnishings have been replaced periodically, and there have been recent improvements to the roof.
- What is the scope of this project?
The goal of this project is the modernization of all the inn’s mechanical systems while retaining the historic, natural look and feel of the public spaces and the comfortable rooms that guests enjoy.
- The exterior appearance of the inn will stay the same, but with new windows and doors. The “behind the scenes” mechanical work will include a new fire alarm system and water lines, a new sprinkler system, and a new HVAC system.
- Accessibility upgrades will include interior ramp access directly into the lobby and sales offices, and a second elevator will be installed that provides better access to the upper and lower levels of the inn.
- The front desk will be moved to provide a more welcoming atmosphere as guests arrive, but the public spaces such as the main lobby and downstairs area will still provide comfortable gathering spaces for music, family games, reading, and relaxing by the fireplace.
- Sleeping rooms will receive furnishing and further bathroom upgrades, along with painting and other cosmetic improvements. Structural changes may occur in some rooms due to the mechanical changes and improvements.
- The Lakeview Room and Millstone Dining Room will be painted and undergo other cosmetic improvements, and there also may be some visible structural changes created by the mechanical modernization.
- What will happen to the pool?
The existing indoor/outdoor pool will be replaced with a surface level splash pad, which will provide easy play opportunities for families and children.
- Will the number of sleeping rooms or conference/meeting facilities be expanded?
There are no plans to expand the number of inn rooms or meeting spaces at this time.
- When will the work begin?
The inn, conference center, and restaurant will close to the public on November 13, 2022.
- When will the work be completed?
We anticipate reopening the facilities during the first quarter of 2024.
- What is the cost of project?
The project is budgeted for $10 million as the base, but it is a building that was constructed in 1937-38, so costs may change as the physical work progresses.
- Where is the funding coming from for this project?
Funding for this project is provided through Governor Holcomb and the State’s General Assembly as a part of an infusion of dollars to address deferred maintenance needs in Indiana State Parks and at other DNR properties.
- Who is in charge of the project?
Our deferred maintenance dollars are administered through the Indiana Department of Administration (IDOA) in cooperation with the DNR divisions of Engineering and State Parks. The project is currently in design, and The Engineering Collaborative is working with Ratio Design and Lawson-Elser Engineering Consultants to produce the construction documents. A general contractor will be selected when those documents are complete.
- Are there requirements for maintaining the historic nature of the inn?
Yes. Any building on state property that is more than 50 years old with a high degree of integrity in its appearance and location is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, so changes like this require a review and approval by the DNR Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology (DHPA). We are preparing the documents required for that review and will ensure that we are maintaining the historical integrity of the inn.
- What happens to all the “stuff” in the inn?
This is a major project that requires removal of virtually everything from the inn. That includes but is not limited to televisions, beds, dishes, dining room tables and chairs, lobby and office furnishings, most kitchen equipment, and much more. Some items will be stored for future use in the inn when it reopens. Most will be used in other inn locations or replaced to be compatible with the newly renovated facility.
- Are there historical artifacts on display or in storage that will be kept?
Yes, there are a few, and these will be evaluated carefully and stored appropriately.
- How will this affect the staff who work at Spring Mill Inn?
All inn associates will remain employed during the renovation. No layoffs or terminations are expected due to the closure. You may see these team members working throughout the park or at other inn locations when assistance is needed. The inn will maintain an office with telephone and electronic communications inside the park to answer questions, make day-to-day contacts, and conduct future sales. That location will be announced once established.
- Why does the dining room have to be closed during the work? Can’t the work be done in sections?
The current mechanical infrastructure does not have valves to allow individual sections of the inn to be shut off. The critical components, including domestic water lines, water/HVAC systems, and the sprinkler system are integrated and must be replaced all at once. The new system will include valves to allow section closures when future repairs are needed.
- When the inn reopens, will there be a buffet?
Yes, we anticipate that there will be a buffet of some sort. That might range from a soup and salad bar to a full buffet for special occasions. We are evaluating how that might be implemented based on food costs, occupancy, interest, and other factors.
- Will we be able to drive down to the inn to see work in progress?
We know that it is fun to see work as it progresses, but most of these renovations will not be visible from outside the building. For safety, security and liability reasons, access to the inn will be restricted to contractors and State staff involved with the project. The road to the inn will be closed where it meets the main park road. Hiking trails will remain open throughout the park. We will use Spring Mill State Park’s Facebook page to keep guests updated on the work as it happens.
- How will this affect the local community during construction?
There may be opportunities for construction employment, depending on the selection of the general contractor and subcontractors. Local organizations who regularly use the inn for gatherings will need to relocate temporarily to other spaces. The park has a variety of outdoor locations available for use, when outside space will fit a group’s needs, along with the six other inns in our system.
- How can I find out about progress on this project?