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.


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    • Kip Schumm on April 13, 2018 at 8:47 am
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    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. Thank you for that information, Kip. Always good to know a Schumm connection, too!

      • Belle McAtee on April 19, 2022 at 5:25 pm
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      Kip yes she did. I wish Willshire was the same as it was when we were kids. What a great place to grow up. Karen should put a book together from this info. Stay safe!

  1. 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. 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!

    • Dawn Strickler on April 13, 2018 at 9:16 am
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    Thanks for sharing this, Karen. I think Kip is correct. Have a nice day.

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

    • Tom Reichard on April 13, 2018 at 3:11 pm
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    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. I think I remember that little library and I can’t get over the 5 gas stations! Great memories and information. Thanks for writing.

    • Kip Schumm on April 13, 2018 at 3:48 pm
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    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. Thanks, Kip! Willshire has had some very good ice cream over the years.

    • Tom Reichard on April 15, 2018 at 12:28 pm
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    I forgot about Mary moving back to that building on a temporary basis before her new building was built. Great memory Kip.

    • Greg Schumm on April 15, 2018 at 11:04 pm
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    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. I hope someone can remember. I love hearing about the stores and businesses that were once in Willshire. Thanks for writing.

        • Sondra Samples on April 16, 2018 at 9:06 am
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        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. Thanks for that great information, Sondra!

        • Sondra Samples on April 16, 2018 at 9:19 am
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        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. I figured that most hotels had a dining room back then. Possibly one of few places to eat out at that time.

    • Joe Byer on April 18, 2018 at 7:37 pm
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    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. Thank you so much for sharing your recollections of the hotel and its history. What great information with so much detail. Thanks for writing!

    • Phyllis Brockmyer on May 1, 2018 at 9:25 pm
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    During the 1950s the Sohio station was Jones & Byer, Gulf station was Merl Hoverman, Pure Oil was Glenn Goodwin. Shell was always Lula Belle Scott, Marathon unsure of startup time.

    1. Wow! You have a good memory. It is hard to believe that Willshire had that many gas stations at that time. Thanks for writing!

    • John Vining on May 2, 2018 at 11:11 am
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    I remember getting ice cream at Mary’s in the hotel when I first started playing farm league baseball (circa 1963-’64). After that, we got our treats from the old building by the river for a season. Then I’m pretty sure we were going to Mary’s new building by the 1967 season. So I’m estimating that Mary’s new building was built around 1966. Does that seem about right, Kip?

    1. Thanks for that time estimate, John.

    • Janet James on May 2, 2018 at 10:40 pm
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    before Mary Stetler had her ice cream shop in the old hotel, she had a nice little shop west of Doc. Osborn’s office, and behind Stucky’s hatchery in the front of the building. I remember getting White House ice cream there, (full of marachino cherries) She had cream cans sitting around the shop but also Ice cream tables and chairs to sit on. This was in the early 50’s. I still can smell the creamery, yummmmm.

    1. My aunt Amy mentioned that location, too. Mary’s ice cream must have been wonderful and everyone remembers how good and rich it was. You can’t go wrong with good ice cream. Thanks for writing!

    • Kenneth L Merkle on December 30, 2018 at 4:15 pm
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    I remember going to free movies on street by Mary’s Ice Cream store, later Dr Osborne’s office.
    That was in late ’40s

    1. Mary’s must have been a popular place with great ice cream. Many have commented about her ice cream.

    • Roger Lee Easthom on March 2, 2023 at 12:08 pm
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    Hello Karen where in Willshire Ohio is this Hotel I am from there I moved their when the tornado in 65 hit the farm was between Rockford and Willshire is still there i seen this on facebook thanks

    1. This old Willshire hotel, known as the Straubinger Hotel, is no longer standing but was located on the SE corner of State Street (US 33) and Water Street. A small frame building is at that location today and is occupied by Mercer Metal. The old hotel was razed in 1964. I have written a couple blog posts about this hotel and some other hotels that were located in Willshire over the years. You can find those posts by searching for “hotel” on the search feature on my home page. Thanks for writing!

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