The Inn at High Hats Antique Mall
Thank you for your interest in The Inn at High Hats, Cambridge City’s oldest guest inn suite. We appreciate you contacting us for your pending overnight accommodation needs. Below you'll find a history of the building and inn. On the next page you'll read our application information and submit your request to stay.
The Inn at High Hats is located on the second floor of the 1850 era Samuel Hoshour Drug Store Building in downtown Cambridge City, Indiana (the central heart of Indiana’s Antique Alley). The upstairs inn accommodations were once the former business offices for the nationally famed ‘Hoshour Drug Store’. The business offices featured state-of-the-art business office equipment for the era; Equipment such as a mechanical money transport system from the downstairs pay counter to the upstairs business offices, a 2-story sky-lit mezzanine that doubled as first floor store lighting, modern calculation devices, leather bound journals, and the finest in circa 1850 office furnishings. The upstairs business offices were as grand as the retail area below.
Construction on the Hoshour Building began in 1849. Built as Indiana’s "finest and fanciest" drug store (with a goal to be the finest in the nation), Samuel Hoshour’s building was designed to be an exceptional high-end retail store as well as a popular stagecoach stop. The timbers in the building were all harvested and hewn from nearby trees. The bricks were formed and fired right on site. Limestone used for the foundation was dug from the nearby canal bed. Sand from the canal was used to form the mortar for the building. The local horses were brushed and the loose hairs were added to the wall plaster as a binding agent. The building was finally completed in late 1851. Samuel Hoshour opened his fine apothecary business in his new grand building in the Spring of 1852.
Hoshour’s store was known nationally more as a tourist attraction than a retail establishment. Visiting patrons came to the store from miles around to marveled at the gleaming gas chandeliers, highly polished wooden floors, unique hand-crafted wooden paneled ceiling, and imported counters and custom-built cabinets containing unusual hand painted signs and apothecary glassware from around the world- all expensive rarities in their day. Patrons referred to the store as a 'Tiffany & Company' showroom rival. Guests were asked to remove their shoes and boots before entering the establishment in efforts to prevent the highly polished fine wooden floors from being damaged by spurs and shoe nails. The wood grain in the floors were designed to perfectly match the wood grain in the hand-made cabinetry. The local town folks didn’t shop in Hoshour’s establishment. They claimed it was “too rich” for their pocketbooks and small-town comfort. Sam Hoshour wasn’t daunted, however. His success came from the wealthy and high spending stagecoach travelers. The front of Hoshour’s store was a stagecoach stopping point for travels to rest. Hoshour’s store was recognized coast-to-coast as “the place to marvel” when traveling through central Indiana because of its superior opulence. Some historians say that famous people such as Abraham and Mary Lincoln, Charlie Chaplin, and Susan B. Anthony patronized the store when they would visit Cambridge City.
Samuel Hoshour was a well-educated and very wealthy man who had a great deal of business connections. Along with his drug store enterprise, Hoshour founded and was acting professor at Hoshour College in Cambridge City (how College Avenue in Cambridge City received its name). Hoshour was also a pastor of the Friends Quaker Church and philanthropist and investor of the national and local arts. The Hoshour’s lived on the south west side of town near West Church Street and Walnut Street in an estate called “Mount Airy.” The Hoshour manor home was a beautiful Italianate residence perched high on a hill. The home remains a private residence today and is a visual reminder of the great business empire Sam Hoshour created.
One historical account documents a tale about a wealthy woman from California who was traveling across country via stagecoach. When she learned the driver was approaching the west end of Cambridge City, the woman feigned a horrible headache and begged the driver to stop at the nearest apothecary store so she could “obtain a remedy” for her sudden ailment. The driver obliged and stopped in front of Hoshour’s establishment. After waiting patiently for nearly an hour, the driver feared the worse and entered the store in search of his troubled passenger. Inside, he found her browsing the fine merchandise and admiring the glamourous surroundings. As they were departing the store the woman told the angered driver how glad she was to have suffered the ‘affliction’ when she did because it gave them both “an opportunity to visit the notorious Hoshour store.” It was reported that she purchased a post card to send to her family in California telling them, “I’ve visited the Hoshour Drug Store—and it was just as magnificent as folks said it to be…”
As rail travel and comfortable Pullman train cars became a more popular travel mode for wealthy travelers, long distance stagecoach travel quickly diminished. Due to a lack of a nearby railroad depot stopover in Cambridge City, Sam Hoshour saw his wealthy traveler patronage and large store profits quickly dwindle. Hoshour had to rethink his marketing strategy if he were to remain in business. The only choices were to either cater to the local customers or close the store for good. In an effort to attract local business, Hoshour removed the fine chandeliers and considerably toned down the glamour and glitz of the store. Spittoons and wooden country chairs replaced the Hoshour elegantly crafted furnishings. With the exception of the original 1850 Grand Staircase (which is still in use today) the entire store was reconfigured to attract the local customers. For the first time since 1852 guests were permitted to enter the store wearing their shoes and boots. The down scale redecorating plan was successful and proved enough to save Hoshour’s business.
Hoshour’s prized building is said to be the third oldest building in Cambridge City’s downtown Main Street strip and is also billed as the oldest continually operating retail store in downtown Cambridge City. After Sam Hoshour’s death in 1892, the store continued to operate as a drug store under new ownership/management until the vast Hoshour estate could be settled. Eventually, the drug store business and the Houhour building were sold. The new owners relocated the drug store across the street. The Hoshour building then became a general goods and dry goods store, a clothing store, a bakery, a shoe store, a jewelry store, a furniture store, a Kroger Supermarket, a bank, and numerous other venues over the years. Today, it serves as an antique mall. The fine cabinetry that once graced the Sam Hoshour Drug Store is now proudly restored and on display at the Hook’s Drug Store Museum at the state fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana.
After nearly a dozen owners and many years of abuse and neglect, High Hats purchased the ailing Hoshour building in 2016. The inn was given immediate priority for restoration. High Hats is now slowly stabilizing and restoring some TLC to the interior of the retail portion of the building. Sadly, much of the original splendor of the building was stripped away as the building was modernized over the years. The original gallery railing that once surrounded the upstairs mezzanine/balcony had been removed and slated to be burned. Fortunately, High Hats rescued the railing and had it carefully reassembled and restored back to its original location around the now floored-in balcony opening. The overhead skylight above the balcony was unfortunately roofed over years ago. High Hats re-illuminated the skylight. It now glistens with two 1860 era stained glass panels which were rescued from a local abandoned church that was being razed. The original hand crafted 1850 wooden ceiling (which was designed by Sam Hoshour and was the focal point of the downstairs east showroom) was found covered by 1950s acoustical drop ceiling tiles. Plans are to someday remove the acoustical ceiling tiles and expose the original wooden ceiling as it appeared in 1850. Searches are currently underway for grant and historic preservation funding or restoration assistance to help with repairing and restoring the outside of the 1850 brick structure. The goal is for Sam Hoshour’s building to once again be the crown gem of Cambridge City’s historic Main Street.
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