Solar Inn Opens

Tribune photo published January 28, 1956

The Solar Inn, located on the east side of Highway 69 south of Ames, was known for great chicken, steaks, and sea food in a plush supper club atmosphere.  Hugh C. Hostetter and Hugh C. Hostetter Jr. opened the Solar Inn in January of 1949.  Arlene Hostetter, wife of Hugh Jr., also helped by serving as a waitress.  Hugh Sr. and Ruth Hostetter had previously operated Hostetter's Cafe in Campustown at 121 WelchThe Solar Inn was constructed on the site where the hangar of the Gebracht Aeronautic Corporation airfield had been from 1928 through the 1930s. Beginning in the summer of 1957, central Iowa car enthusiasts would turn into the driveway of the restaurant because the Ames Drag Strip was constructed behind the Solar Inn, although separated by a tall wooden fence.  View additional images of the Solar Inn, including a menu.

The opening of the Solar Inn was delayed from the planned July 4th date to January 28, 1950.

The Solar Inn was destined to celebrate the grand opening during an extremely tough Iowa winter.  The featured photo above, probably taken the week of January 23, already showed a glaze of ice covering the driveway and parking area.  The January 27 Grand Opening announcement in the Ames Daily Tribune advertised Plenty of Parking Space, but the following day, the day of the opening celebration, the Ames Daily Tribune headlines shout, 8 INCH SNOWFALL BLANKETS, DISTRUPTS AMES.   Surely, not many Ames residents were able to venture south on Highway 69 to enjoy Hugh Hostetter's fine meals.  Furthermore, the February 1 issue carried the headline, THE GREAT BLIZZARD OF JAN. 31, 1949.

The February 7 Ames Daily Tribune front page article, THE "WHY" OF WILD WINTER, explained how refuge air flows collided right after Thanksgiving, giving the Midwest one of the worst winters in the record books.  Storms continued.  The February 10th paper says, SNOW, SNOW, SNOW.

SLIPPERY LINCOLN WAY TRICKS MANY MOTORISTS INTO SERIES OF MISHAPS was the top headline for February 12, but the Valentines Day issue finally announced, ALL COUNTY ROADS, AMES STREETS OPEN.

click to enlarge
This Tribune photo published October 18, 1956, shows the interior of the Solar Inn.
Mrs. Bill Butterfield shows off the stuffed puppy she received at a farewell dinner given for the Butterfields Wednesday night by the Chamber of Commerce board of directors and past presidents.  From the left are Mr. and Mrs. Don Bledsoe, the Butterfields, Mrs. Hollis Nordyke and Mr. and Mrs. Chev Adams.  Butterfield, retiring general manager of the Chamber, received a briefcase from the group.  He has accepted a position in Minneapolis with the National Citizens Council for Better Schools.

This Van Voorhis advertisement was typical of several sponsored by area contractors published on January 28 .

2008 view of 2812 South Duff, home of ISUNET and IDM (In Depth Marketing)

The Solar Inn operated from 1949-1977.

  • 1978 - Affiliated Realty - Cheran's Bridal Shop
  • 1980 - R & B Real Estate
  • 1998 - Blue Jeans Forever
  • 2001 - Blue Jeans Forever Tavern