Zane Grey Museum

Zane Grey Museum

Why Norwich, Ohio for Zane Grey Museum

Events –  

Let’s go back to 1960, when the idea of an interstate system, I-70, was going to be coming through Ohio. I.B. Baker owned the motel and the land on both sides of the Historic National Road. Back then, though, it was the main road east to west, and Baker’s Motel and Restaurant were booming. This was all about to change, though, as I-70 was coming, and all Business on the National Road would be in jeopardy.  

History of Zane Grey Museum

The owner of Baker’s Motel had the foresight to see what was coming, so he got ahead of the game and contacted the State of Ohio to negotiate land for a museum here in Norwich, Ohio, and in return, the state would put an exit for Norwich, Ohio.  In 1963, when the interstate came through, an exit was built, and the Zane Grey Museum opened; the motel was saved from extinction, unlike most other lodging properties that did not have an exit for I-70 near them.  Back then, the restaurant and the motel complimented each other, but I.B. was getting older and wanted out of the Business. Hence, he sold the property to General Theaters Company out of Cleveland, Ohio, which owned many of the Drive-In Theaters in Ohio and wanted to expand their business into lodging; ten years later, though, they sold out to Kim Zachary in 1973.  At this time, the motel was on the decline, and even with I-70, the Business started to dwindle as more and more lodging properties were being built, and the traffic was not keeping up with the number of properties.
Additionally, the traveling public started wanting a higher standard of quality, which at that time became chain motels and hotels. AAA was the standard for independents; the more stars there were, the better the property would be. During this stage of lodging history, most lodging properties had restaurants, as the traveling public wanted easy access to food.

Travelers Changed, and Business Changed

During the 70s – 90s, travelers changed, and with the change, Baker’s Motel also changed; still having The Zane Grey Museum across the street was an asset, and we still worked closely as one business’s growth had a lot to do with the other Business even though they were separate.  In the 90s, we saw a lot of change in the traveling public with their wants and needs; at Baker’s, we removed our swimming pool and added fridges and microwaves to all rooms. Our travelers changed from families to work crews, senior citizens, and salespeople, most of whom could care to hoot about a swimming pool.  During this period, the museum also saw a lot of changes as traffic started to wain, but as we both saw the change, we adapted. Though with shorter hours at the museum motel, guests could not see the museum as the museum did not open until after the guest checked out and closed before the guest checked in.  It was a fun time then as we were always thought of as old, but everything would change again as our country found a new interest in history, and Baker’s Motel was no longer considered old but now historic.  Since we were on The National Road and were one of the most landmark motels still in operation, our Business has grown again.

Leveling of the Playing Field

In the late 90s, with the advent of the Internet, the whole game started to change; we no longer needed highway signs, which were a considerable expense in the 60s – 90s, along with many other changes for the good of this Business.  With the advent of the Internet, the playing field was leveled, and you no longer needed to be a chain or affiliated with anyone. This meant you could put more money back into your Business; astute operators saw this and added a website to drive traffic to their locations.  Once again, change was coming in the 2000s with reviews, and people started to feel some power. For many, it was and is a way to make big businesses yield to their needs; with abuse, though, comes change again, and over the years, the chains have created a large portion of our society that abuses this, for which we are seeing another change coming.  Big Business is who started the problem, and big business is paying for that problem today; we are seeing many large companies closing their doors and small businesses getting tired of many of the ridiculous reviews with no merit and enhancing our properties as we see the needs change for us it is a unique mix of the old and the new.

Changing the way of Business

COVID changed everything, but our Business continued to be needed. With motels, the traveling public did not need to enter hallways or stay on the second or third floor. Still, with motels, guests could park in front of their room and not see anyone. We took this to the next level for our guests by already having digital locks and the ability to book online and receive a digital code if coming in late to access rooms.

At Baker’s Motel, we continually update our property, unlike chains, which only update when new owners take over. We are constantly performing updates both online and offline. Today, we offer something the chains cannot, which is history; our property continues to provide immaculate rooms and a safe outdoor environment for our guests; we welcome all travelers today just like was done over 85 years ago.  We have operated continuously for as long as the doors have been open. Why?  We have a continuous standard that we attempt to meet, which rarely varies.

The Museum Website:

Norwich, Ohio First Stage Coach Traffic Fatality.

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