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home : columnists : columnists October 22, 2017

9/21/2017 4:00:00 AM
Downtown building to celebrate 150th
The Times photos by Betsy ReasonOld Picket Fence owner Rosie Hoistion invites the community to the 150th anniversary celebration at 11 a.m. Saturday for the Sowerwine Building, which she leases for her gift shop on the Historic Hamilton County Courthouse Square.
The Times photos by Betsy Reason

Old Picket Fence owner Rosie Hoistion invites the community to the 150th anniversary celebration at 11 a.m. Saturday for the Sowerwine Building, which she leases for her gift shop on the Historic Hamilton County Courthouse Square.

By Betsy Reason

Rosie Hoistion has a big smile on her face everyday as she welcomes customers to Old Picket Fence.

It will be two years come January that she bought the business from Janet Hatmaker, who was looking to retire.

Hoistion didn't realize the rich history of the 150-year-old property until she settled into the old building on the northwest corner of Logan and Ninth streets in downtown Noblesville.

The Sowerwine Building -- in which Old Picket Fence leases about 2,500 square feet of space -- will celebrate its 150th birthday with an open house, tours and live music on Saturday.

Interestingly, her business is only one of six businesses that have been located in the Sowerwine Building in its 150 years.

Built in 1867 and rebuilt in 1887 to accommodate natural gas lines, the Sowerwine building continuously held dry goods stores beginning with C.W. Sowerwine, 1898-1920. Advertising covered the building's facade, and a mural on the east wall proclaimed Sowerwine's as "The store that saves you more," according to an article in The Noblesville Ledger. The Sowerwine family home at 355 S. Ninth St., was one of the 12 structures in Noblesville Preservation Alliance's Historic Homes Tour last weekend.

Other businesses in the building included: Osbon Dry Goods, 1920-25; Willits Department Store, 1925-1981; Watson's Carpet, 1982-2001; Dominic's Design furniture store and upholstery shop, 2001-09; and now Old Picket Fence, 2009 thru present. Current building owners are Mike Davis and John Elmer.

Hoistion said former employees and shoppers of Willits, the longest tenant of 56 years, still visit Old Picket Fence, reminiscing about days gone by about shopping in the upscale department store that was like the "Macy's" of the area.

While the building has been updated through the years, it has kept much of its character.

That's one of the reasons that Hoistion loves having her antique store in the historic 150-year-old building. "I think it's a perfect fit to have the older stuff in here," she said. "I think this all fits together, the merchandise, the building, I think it's a nice fit."

A native of upstate New York who came to Noblesville with her husband, Jeff, after he retired from the military, is a former school teacher of 18 years whose pastime is being an antique picker.

That's why her motto of Old Picket Fence is "Where every item tells a story," she said. "We try to find out as much history and background on the pieces to pass on to the new owners."

When she took over Old Picket Fence, she had only a handful of vendors. That number grew to 20 when she opened the lower level, which was painted and cleaned.

On Saturday, the 150th birthday celebration kicks off at 11 a.m. with a presentation by Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear, and live "antique songs" from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by Janet Gilray, aka Miss Melody, who monthly performs in the store. Guests can also meet the store's artists, including 13-year-old Dani Bradley. Hoistion also invited family members of former building owners, former employees, current building owners and former Old Picket Fence business owner. Rosie and her husband and others will lead lead tours of the 7,000-square-foot building, which also houses an upstairs beauty shop, Love's Hangover jewelry store, plus a private four-bedroom, second-floor apartment. There will also be sales throughout the birthday party, which concludes at 5 p.m.

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

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