Interesting History of the Davis Mercantile

The Davis Mercantile, a large shopping center located in the center of Shipshewana has more of a history to it than meets the eye. The history of the Davis Mercantile dates back to 1891, when Hezekiah Davis built a hotel called the Davis Hotel. In the 1960’s the Davis Hotel was relocated from the corner of Main St. and Morton St. to a block on Main Street.

  1. Purchased

In the 1980’s the Miller family (the current owners) purchased the Davis Hotel and began refurbishing it. However, the hotel was not near large enough for the retail shops that the Miller’s had in mind, and they built the Davis Mercantile. The Shipshewana mercantile had several retail shops and small restaurants. This became a tourist attraction, along with the Shipshewana Flea Market, that drew in people from around the country.

2. Fire

On February 28, 2004, a fire with an unknown cause destroyed the Davis Hotel building and the Davis Mercantile. When the Davis Mercantile was destroyed it contained eleven shops, all with various owners. Although the Millers were unsure whether to rebuild or not, they realized they were not the only people hurt from the fire, and for the sake of everyone involved decided to rebuild. A good thing they did!

3. Rebuilding

The Davis Mercantile rebuilding began in August of 2004. They called the rebuilding an “Old Fashioned Barn Raising,” referring to how the Amish come together as a community to raise their barns. The new Davis Mercantile was built and became as successful as ever!

4. Carousel

The third floor of the new Davis Mercantile contains a 1906 Dentzel Carousel. The original pieces of the carousel are the gears, braces, and the center pole. A local Amish man carved the animals on the carousel, which are all animals that you see around Shipshewana, such as horses, cows, chickens, dogs, and more. This carousel has become a staple of the Davis Mercantile and a great addition.

5. Tree

The new Davis Mercantile also included a very large tree that goes through the middle staircase of the mercantile, from the bottom floor to the top. The log weighs over 18,000 pounds, is 56 feet long, and has a diameter of 44 inches. The tree was estimated to be over 370 years old! Although the tree serves no purpose to the structure of the building, it sure is cool to look at!

The Davis Mercantile has quite the history in Shipshewana and has a lot more to it than meets the eye. Although the Miller’s and the Davis Mercantile struggled with adversity such as a fire, they worked hard, overcame, and created a successful and important staple in Shipshewana. Come visit them today, located in the heart of town, behind the Blue Gate Restaurant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *