Mental health association buys Yellow Rose Inn

December 4, 2009
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An elegant Old Northside mansion known as the Yellow Rose Inn has a new owner with plans to discontinue a bed-and-breakfast operation. Mental Health America of Indiana Inc., which has its headquarters next door, bought the property at 1441 N. Delaware St. from Betty Davis, who began operating the inn and event center with her late husband Larry in 1981. The 7,200-square-foot property had been listed for $750,000 but the association is buying it for less, said Beth Karnes, president of the group's foundation. Plans call for the first floor to continue to serve as conference and meeting space, while the second and third floors will become office space. "We're almost at capacity in our current building,"  Karnes said. "The thought was we might never have the opportunity again to have the property next door." Davis, who lives in a carriage house behind the mansion, plans to continue using the first floor and grounds for weddings and other events. The colonial revival structure was built between 1897 and 1898 as a residence for attorney Harry J. Milligan. The building served as a corporate headquarters in the 1930s and was converted into 8 apartments in the 1940s. It was renovated again in 1981 to serve its current capacity as a meeting facility and inn with four large suites.

  • yellow rose
    note - if you haven't seen
  • Not quite right
    This mansion is very special to me because I lived there from 1997 to 2000. I am a good friend of Larry Davis' daughter. After she, her husband, myself and others finished college, we moved into the home while Larry renovated the carriage house. He had seperated from his first wife, Vivian, and neither wanted to live there alone. Larry renovated the property in 1981, turning it from an apartment to a home for himself, his wife and two children. He rebuilt the staircase that is there today restoring the original design of the home. It's true that Larry and Betty married and together turned the mansion into to what has been the Yellow Rose Inn for most of the 2000s, but for roughly 20 years it was home to a special family and to several of their friends. I can't count the number of people I've met over the years who tell me they have visited that house, whether for a grandiose party or other reason. The home has a great widow's walk on the roof. I've played guitar up on that roof many times. When I used to play up there I felt like I was playing for all of downtown Indy. 1441, as I like to call, is a special place-- just wanted to add a piece of history this story was missing.
    • Jason Leamnson
      I remember Jason living there with all of you and when I came to visit him from Virginia I slept in the sitting room off the bedroom and was comfortable. I remember it being very big and everyone had their own space and still could come together in the dining and living areas. I still remember Rubin dog entertaining all of us downstairs in the big room. How I miss that dog. Momma Leamnson
    • Thanks Ryan
      Ryan - Thanks for adding some interesting color!
    • Great Place
      It is a great building on a wonderful stretch of street. Thanks Ryan
    • Disappointed
      My husband and I have stayed at the inn three times this last year and every time was just as wonderful as the first. I will truely miss the house and Betty, when we visit Indy. I doubt that there would be any place comparable. Thank you for the memories.

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    1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

    2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

    3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

    4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

    5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.