Only In Indiana: Time Stands Still
AUBURN, Ind. (WTHR) - Auburn, Indiana is known for a car show that is the third largest one-day event in the entire state.
But something else caught our eye during a recent trip there.
It's as old as the Duesenberg and just as fleeting.
"I stayed here in 1952. Have the prices gone up?" asked a patron checking in at the front desk of the Auburn Hotel.
There are 57 rooms in the Auburn Hotel, but only 52 are for rent and those are only available for one half week out of the year.
"These rooms at the end of the hall are really as close as you can get to original. I know it's still the original wallpaper for example," hotel owner Roger Eddy explained.
You heard right, the off-season for the Auburn Hotel lasts 51 1/2 weeks. The on-season, during the Auburn Auto Show, lasts a half week.
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"Crack the windows to let fresh air in. Everything is original. We have not tried the phony vinyl window upgrade or anything. Everything that is in the hotel belongs in the hotel just the way it did when it was remodeled in 1920," Eddy said.
The creak of the floor, the long hallways and the lingering shadows all add to the allure.
"Well, if you are ready to take another stairway. One of these days, I may put an elevator in," Eddy says as he turns and starts walking up the stairs to the second floor.
The surprising thing is that those who are lucky enough to get one of these rooms don't want them updated, but this is what they look like if they are.
"I think we can upgrade that by five dollars maybe," Eddy laughingly offers to the customers huddled around him.
If these walls could talk, what would they say?
"They would say there have been a lot of people here who were pretty interesting," Eddy said.
The old hotel has a storied past that allegedly includes the likes of Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and John Dillinger.
"How much does this place mean to you?" Eyewitness News reporter Kevin Rader asked Eddy.
"A lot, 'cause it has that history of people," he answered.
He bought the place in 1979 when it appeared to be on it's last legs, recruited his sons and now grandsons, and has been able to welcome folks like Paul Kaufman ever since.
"Paul has been coming here since he was this high," Eddy says, holding his hand at knee level.
"1971 was my first year, come for the auto show," Kaufman said. "Well, actually, I come for the friends. People really come back, because it's like a big college reunion."
They get together and talk about the old days, their old cars and the old times that seem to have passed them by.
"You really get the feeling it's 1920 again," Eddy said.
Maybe that is why they all come back, because for two-and-a-half days a year, this may be the only place where time stands still.
"I love the décor. The oldness. The authenticity of it. You just can't find it in many places. We just traditionally always leave a red carnation in every room, but we used to use Coke bottles, but have updated to vases now. We are not stuck. We are moving with the times," Eddy said.
The good old times.
Eddy, now in his 80s, says he is looking for someone who will be willing to take the hotel over.