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Apr 13

The Old Willshire Hotel

I vaguely remember the old Willshire Hotel. It was located on the east side of Willshire’s main street, State Route 49, in the general area of where Blackcreek Peddler is located today. Actually, I believe it stood in the exact same location.

Below is a nice picture postcard of the old Willshire Hotel.

Willshire Straubinger Hotel, photo postcard.

Below is an enlarged portion of the photo. I wonder who the two men were? Maybe guests. Maybe the owner or proprietor.

Willshire Hotel enlargement.

It looks like the old hotel was a fine establishment. I wonder if there was a place to eat there,too, and how many guest rooms there were.

Below is a photo of the Willshire Hotel, as it looked in about 1963, when I was in the 6th grade and a student at the Willshire School. I was in Mrs. Freeman’s class and we took a field trip to the old hotel and the park. I snapped this photo of my classmates that day. You can tell it is the same building but the years had taken their toll.

Straubinger Hotel.1963 photo

I am thinking that in the later years, during my time, there was a little restaurant or ice cream parlor in the hotel. It looks like that in the above photo. Maybe someone else remembers that.

I do not know when they took the building down, but it is fun to look at the old photos.

19 comments

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  1. Kip Schumm

    Growing up as a kid i remember Mary Stetler had Mary’s Frosty Zip in the old hotel then they tore it down and she built the building that is there today she made the the best chocolate milk shakes.
    Mary was a sister-in-law to my grandmother Leona Schumm.

    1. Karen

      Thank you for that information, Kip. Always good to know a Schumm connection, too!

  2. Jerry Duff

    The building was owned by Mary Stetler’s deceased husband (Doot (Dude)Stetler?). Mary’s shakes/malts were a favorite of people within 15 miles of Willshire. Summer on Sunday brought a string of cars speeding past my house an Rt. 81/124 in Indiana. Whenever I had a quarter in my pocket, that was my stop walking home. The Frosty Zip and later the Slickman’s Tastee Freeze (still there) were staples in Willshire for many years.

    We sang the song (changed a bit)…”Meet me at Midnight Mary’s…and don’t let anyone know. Don’t let anyone know!”

    Who can name the five gas stations in Willshire in the early 60’s?

    1. Karen

      Thank you for that great information, Jerry. Now I remember the name Mary Stetler. Love your version of the song, too. I remember the original song. Willshire had 5 gas stations in the early 60s? Wow!

  3. Dawn Strickler

    Thanks for sharing this, Karen. I think Kip is correct. Have a nice day.

    1. Karen

      You are welcome! It is always interesting to look at these old photos.

  4. Tom Reichard

    I recall there was a fire at the Willshire Hotel and that was the reason it ultimately closed. ????? There was a small (Brumback) library at the back of Frosty Zip as well. Mary’s Frosty Zip was the preferred stop after Little League baseball games. I recall the Coaches paid for/allowed us 15 cents per player. I think that bought each of us a small malt or a large ice cream cone.

    The five gas stations were Cleo Painter’s Grocery (brand of gas ?????), Lulu Scott’s Shell Station and card room, Kenny Dellinger’s Sohio station , Cowgill’s (then Huntzinger’s, then Howie’s) Gulf station and finally Max Dellinger’s Marathon Fire Chief/Marathon.

    1. Karen

      I think I remember that little library and I can’t get over the 5 gas stations! Great memories and information. Thanks for writing.

  5. Kip Schumm

    When they tore down the old hotel Mary move the ice cream shop down by the river in an old building until the new building was built.

    1. Karen

      Thanks, Kip! Willshire has had some very good ice cream over the years.

  6. Tom Reichard

    I forgot about Mary moving back to that building on a temporary basis before her new building was built. Great memory Kip.

  7. Greg Schumm

    Perhaps one of you history buffs can help me out. Do you remember the little shoe store that was located next to the post office? Also, I remember a long white bearded man that used to sit outside that little store on an old wooden bench.

    1. Karen

      I hope someone can remember. I love hearing about the stores and businesses that were once in Willshire. Thanks for writing.

      1. Sondra Samples

        The little shoe store beside the post office was John Spitler’s when I was teenager in the “white buck shoe” era. We girls would stop there to buy bunny puffs, filled with white talcum, to clean our shoes. He later moved the shoe store uptown on main street and combined it with a hardware store. The long white bearded man that I remember was Ben Straubinger, of the Straubinger Hotel family. He would fascinate us kids that swam in the stone quarry by floating on his back for very long stretches of time. This was before the quarry became part of the Willshire waterworks system and swimming there was forbidden.

        1. Karen

          Thanks for that great information, Sondra!

      2. Sondra Samples

        Karen your question about if there was food served at the hotel…..the very earliest Willshire Alumni banquets were reported to have been held at the hotel dining room. This would have been before the early 1930s addition to the school building that included a cafeteria and gymnasium, and restrooms! Also, second floor office, lab, and study hall rooms.

        1. Karen

          I figured that most hotels had a dining room back then. Possibly one of few places to eat out at that time.

  8. Joe Byer

    I believe the hotel building was owned by Dale Jones after the Straubingers. Mary Stetler and her husband Earl “Dude” Stetler operated the ice cream shop and a lawn ornament business out of the hotel. Mary’s ice cream was so extra, extra good because she ran an cream route every day, buying cream from a handful of farmers. She had a 1956 blue ford pickup truck and would unload her daily cream supply on the back porch of the hotel. She eventually stopped the route and switched to commercial supplies for her ice cream.

    Before the hotel was torn down, perhaps in 1960 or thereabouts, my dad stripped the woodwork, doors, window frames etc. out and saved the wood. It was all walnut, some of the boards were an inch thick. I believe we still have some items around made from the planks. (Jerry’s neighbor, Bill Finden, made a desk for dad out of some of the larger boards.) I remember the hotel from messing around in the upstairs. There were only a handful of rooms, the doors barely swung open, everything creaked and groaned with even the lightest footstep of wayward youth, and the furniture had all been removed. There were a couple of bed springs left, I believe they were just laying on the floor. The best memories were of course the ice cream, and the regular supply of books for the summer.

    The library was located in the hotel’s dining room, I believe, just behind the ice cream shop, and was filled not only with books, but housed all sorts of trinkets and junk that Mary sold: kaleidoscopes, lamps that rotated and lit up scenes in a sequence (some surprisingly naughty for Mary), little books that when flipped through quickly showed movement, rubber snakes and bugs, etc., all the things necessary for normal kids. When the hotel was torn down, Dale Jones moved Mary’s ice cream shop and the ornament business back toward the river into an old house that “Doc” Christy used to live in until he died in the mid 50s. It later served as the Willshire Sportsman’s Club location. I believe there had been a water mill at that location at one time, there was still some cement work around the building that I thought might be related to the mill.

    BTW, Cleo sold “Pure Oil” products at his store.

    1. Karen

      Thank you so much for sharing your recollections of the hotel and its history. What great information with so much detail. Thanks for writing!

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