Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Onetime motor court converted to apartments on US 40 in Hancock County, Indiana

It began in the 1950s as the Kaiden Motel, in the small US 40 community of Philadelphia, four miles west of downtown Greenfield. It wasn’t very different from any number of other motels on US 40, or anywhere, really: a spray of small brick buildings, two rooms each, arranged in a semi-circle around a central restaurant and gas station.

I-70 was built to parallel US 40 across Indiana in the 1960s and 1970s, and as it opened, traffic on US 40 dried up. It spelled death to most businesses that depended on US 40’s heavy traffic, including the motels. As you drive US 40 across the state today, you’ll find many hotels simply abandoned and decayed. A few have continued as budget motels, often with weekly rates.

The Kaiden didn’t survive, and was left to slowly rot. But in 2012, a couple bought the property and restored it for use as small apartments.

Here’s that onetime restaurant and gas station. The gas pumps stood between the pillars, under the awning.

Former motor court, US 40

It’s a gorgeous restoration. Just look at all the details the owners paid attention to.

Former motor court, US 40

There are six of these two-unit cottages, plus a small house, in this semi-circle. Behind these units are a few more units; you can see part of one of them in this photo. Google Maps satellite view shows three more back there.

Former motor court, US 40

I believe that at one time, the center part of these cottages was covered parking for cars. Notice how the brick is slightly different in the center section, and how two of the windows have siding under them rather than brick. Those windows were probably where the entry doors were, originally. It wasn’t uncommon for motels of this style to enclose covered parking areas to enlarge the rooms.

Former motor court, US 40

Completing the panorama, here is the east end of the court. Notice how the rightmost building appears to be three units rather than two; the covered parking area was converted into a unit of its own, rather than used to enlarge the other two units.

Former motor court, US 40

As I bicycled into Philadelphia on my Ride Across Indiana, I braked hard when I came upon the Village Apartments and, as you can see, photographed it extensively from US 40’s shoulder. This is a stunning restoration. I’m curious to see what the apartments look like inside!

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9 thoughts on “Onetime motor court converted to apartments on US 40 in Hancock County, Indiana

  1. Jeweler's Granddaughter says:

    Nice coverage of local small affordable housing. There are/were(?) several small conversions like this, in various levels of quality along US40 in Hancock County. I, too, have always been curious about what the insides look like of these various units, but since they always seem to be “full up” there didn’t seem to be an opportunity to “get up close and personal” and be nosy. I have been “into” vintage styles of architecture for years, and continually dig into archive.org for catalogs, brochures, etc., showing when such things were new and original. I have gathered up similar types of designs until I can frequently imagine from the outsides what the insides must look like, just from the sizes, window and door placements, and shapes. Same thing with my real personal favorites – 1920s and 1930s Bungalows and kit homes.
    These are always curiosities for me, as my curiosity has always lead me on from one thing to another! Thanks for providing us with some more history of our county!

  2. Brilliant transformation! I love anytime someone can save an old building from the wrecking ball and reimagine the space into something useful and beautiful. I’m dying to know what the interior design is like!

    These in-depth dispatches from your ride have been so interesting, Jim. It makes me want to revisit that stretch of 40 soon.

  3. I’m not sure, but the Skyline Motel just east of Irvington west of Shadeland Avenue (“old state road 100”) along Washington Street (the National Road “old” US 40) may have been converted into apartments as well as another motel further “into” Irvington between Arlington Avenue and Audubon Road. The latter one had “issues” with the Marion County Health Department, but I forget the details…

    • Lots of motels became either long-term stay places (i.e., you pay by the week but generally stay for months) or studio apartments. It’s just that very few did it after an extensive renovation designed to make the place very nice, like this one did!

  4. Andy Umbo says:

    Think there’s another of these on Northfield Drive in Brownsburg Indiana, near the cigar lounge I used to go to. Well taken care of and brick construction. I always wanted a peek, but never got around to it….

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