White Lodging on July 18 announced the opening of its Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Fort Wayne Downtown. The property not only has two new-to-Fort Wayne restaurant concepts – Burger Bar and the city’s only open-air rooftop bar, Conner’s Rooftop — but has two pieces of public art. Conner’s Rooftop is open; Burger Bar opens July 22.

The 136-room hotel is at 223 W. Jefferson Blvd. next to Parkview Field, home of the TinCaps Class A Minor League Baseball team, and the Grand Wayne Convention Center.

The hotel also features what looks like a giant baseball embedded into the side of the seventh floor of the building, strategically placed as if it were a home run hit from Parkview Field. Local artist Tim Parsley completed the realistic painting on the ball, according to a White Lodging statement. A second piece of public art outside the hotel was unveiled later in the day — a silicon bronze statue of Johnny Appleseed seated on a bench with a shiny red apple in his outstretched hand. The statue is designed with an open seat where admirers can sit alongside the American and Fort Wayne icon, according to the statement.

A plaque next to the statue reads:

“’Making Children Smile’

“Johnny Appleseed 1774-1845

“John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, called Fort Wayne home from 1830s until his death in 1845. Love, not material things, drove Johnny’s beliefs and actions. Making children smile was the most satisfying part of his day.”

White Lodging and the artist — the Rotblatt Amrany Studio, based in Highland Park, Illinois, with Gary Tillery as the lead artist — worked with Urbana University’s Johnny Appleseed Museum and the Johnny Appleseed Festival to ensure the most accurate historical representation of the nurseryman, according to the statement. The studio has made other notable statues, including one of Ernie Banks for the Chicago Cubs and of Michael Jordan for the Chicago Bulls.

“Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Fort Wayne Downtown is a great addition to downtown, offering guests convenient access to everything Fort Wayne has to offer, including our two new restaurants,” said Kevin Croy, opening general manager. “We’re excited to welcome guests with a dose of Midwestern charm, quality accommodations and elevated atmosphere.”

Every Hampton by Hilton guest will enjoy the brand’s signature free, hot breakfast with healthy options; On the Run breakfast bags; and free WiFi in every room. The hotel features an oversized rooftop fitness center, an outdoor fireplace and patio area, and access to parking via covered breezeway. A meeting space is also available that holds up to 47 people with direct access to the outdoor patio area.

“This new downtown hotel will assist us in our continued efforts to attract more tourists and conventions to our community,” Mayor Tom Henry said in the statement. “White Lodging is a tremendous partner, and we appreciate their ongoing commitment to investing in Fort Wayne. This public-private venture will be a great benefit for future guests and our entire city and region. Proactive leadership efforts by the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission and Capital Improvement Board helped make this significant project possible.”

Conner’s Rooftop is situated on the top floor, a continuation of the nearby Conner’s Kitchen + Bar, with cozy indoor/outdoor seating, shareable small plates, fire pits, and craft and frozen cocktails.

Burger Bar pays homage to the legendary food trucks dotting the Midwest, serving local butcher burgers and hand-spun milkshakes. Boasting seating for 70, including 18 outdoor seats on West Jefferson Boulevard, the Austin, Texas-born restaurant will offer handcrafted Midwestern Angus beef burgers; made-to-order french fries and hand-breaded chicken sandwiches. Rounding out the menu will be keg cocktails, boozy milkshakes and local craft beer. The full menu will also be available for pickup.

For more information or to make reservations, visit Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Fort Wayne Downtown or call 260-247-6915.

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