In 1909, a building was removed to make room for a new hotel built by Peter E Dietrich, a building which today houses the Bremen Senior Living apartments and the Bremen History Center. The old building was moved to N Marshall St, where it continued as a grocery store for many years.
Life as a Hotel
In 1873 (according to an 1892 history), John Bauer, who ran the general store and post office on the NE corner of Plymouth and Center (where the Downtown’r is today), built the American House hotel, probably with a livery stable (for renting and quartering horses and buggies) at the back. Bauer sold to Nicholas Schillinger in 1875. After two years, Schillinger leased it to Jep Turner. Turner built the saloon addition on the west side, creating the odd roofline seen in all the photos we have of the property.
In 1878, Schillinger traded the hotel to Clements Dick of Mishawaka for an interest in the brewery there, and Turner continued to run the saloon.
In 1879, the whole shebang was bought by Jacob Walter, who had come from Woodland to run a saw mill but had by then retired from supervising it. His son, Frank Walter, took on the day-to-day business of the hotel and bar and ran them to his father’s death in 1889 and, after a couple of years, bought the business from his mother.
In 1893, Walter leaded the business to JR Watson and, in 1894, to Mrs JP Huff, altho he continued to manage the livery. In 1895, it was equipped with electric lights. In 1898, management was taken over by OG Richardson, but the business struggled.
In 1908, Frank Walter decided he could no longer make a venture of the hotel, despite a general boom that put board and lodging in high demand.
Life as a Grocery
Given the need for a hotel in town, an Improvement Committee was established to encourage one be built. Peter E Dietrich, who had started the Bremen Bank in the back of his brother’s general store, took up the challenge. The Improvement Committee bought the old building in order to move it out of the way.
The old building was sold to Sam Mutti and moved to 309 N Marshall St (now 409 N Marshall). Sam ran the upper floor as a boarding house (sometimes called “Mutti Hotel”) while John Byrer ran the grocery store on the lower floor. Mutti and Byrer disagreed with the liquor laws passed by Congress in the 1910s and were arrested on more than one occasion.
Sam Mutti drowned in the Yellow River in 1927 on a bender, and John Byrer and his brother Leonard bought the building and ran it until 1944.
Bob “Butch” Zentz bought it and remodeled it. He ran it until 1960 and sold to Art Forsythe, who called it the Neighborhood Grocery. The building caught fire in December of that year, but the occupants escaped without harm. By that time, the upstairs had been turned into two apartments (occupied by Mr & Mrs Virgil Roberts and Mr & Mrs Virgil Wright), and part of the first floor was an apartment for the Forsythes.
The Forsythes closed the grocery store soon after and moved the business to 115 N Center St (currently vacant). The structure was demolished not long after, and the lot remained empty for many years.