The Commercial Hotel at 68-70 Wilson Street has been in its current location, in one form or another, since 1874.
Originally built as a bootmakers' shop in 1871, it was converted by its owner in 1874.
Joseph Fechler, a 24-year-old bootmaker, emigrated from Germany to Kapunda in South Australia in 1869.
After two years he moved to Horsham to set up his bootmaker's business at 68 Wilson Street.
In 1874 he decided to change his trade and become a hotelier.
He enlarged his shop into the Commercial Hotel, which was first licensed on 24 September 1874.
In addition, he had a timber and iron business in the yard behind it, accessed from Pynsent Street.
Joseph married Florentine Reichan in 1875 and together they ran the hotel.
By 1882 he thought of retiring from the hotel business to concentrate on his land investments.
As a first step he sold the timber business to his foreman, John T Weight, and leased the hotel to Adolf Pfandt.
However, it was not to be as he had to return to managing the hotel on two occasions due to unsuitable lessees.
He finally retired from active management in December 1892 when George Nisbet, an experienced publican, took the lease.
Three years later Hermann Scheele took over the lease until Fechler sold the freehold to Martin Day in 1901.
Day installed fellow Irishman, Patrick McCabe, as licensee and lived in retirement at the hotel.
But only for a few months, as he died in June 1901.
Patrick McCabe continued to run the hotel until the estate was finalised and the hotel was purchased by Richard and Ellen Turner in September 1905.
In January 1907 the thirteen Horsham publicans got together and decided to double the cost of a 10-ounce glass of beer from threepence to sixpence!
The town's beer drinkers were in uproar and decided to go on strike.
They remained firm in their resolve for about a week but the latter part of January 1907 became extremely hot.
They picked their target and congregated in the Commercial Hotel to plead with Mrs Turner to let them have a threepenny glass of beer.
After two or three days of unremitting pressure she relented and served small glasses of beer for threepence. The strike was broken!
In September 1907 a new publican, James Anderson, took a seven-year lease on the Commercial Hotel.
By this time the wooden building was becoming quite dilapidated.
In early 1908 Anderson was approached by Max and Richard Puls, who offered to build a new hotel on the site provided he (Anderson) stayed on as publican.
In March 1908 a temporary bar was established at the rear of the premises to allow work to commence.
The architect, A L Tait, had designed a two-storey hotel centred on 68 Wilson Street with adjoining shops for tenants.
The property extended north to Pynsent Street providing access to the hotel's stables and a resident blacksmith.
The new building was opened in November 1908 and described in the Horsham Times of 6 November 1908 as "a handsome edifice that is a credit to the designer".
James Anderson, the licensee, purchased the hotel's freehold from the Puls brothers in 1910 and the Anderson family continued to run the hotel until leasing it out in 1925 and retiring to Melbourne.
By 1930, after a succession of lessees, the Commercial was becoming run down.
In early 1931 the Anderson family had to return to Horsham to take over the hotel's management once more.
When James Anderson died in 1947 his eldest daughter, Alma Anderson, continued the business until 1954 when she leased it to the Ballarat Brewing Company.
Arch Gardiner, then a young waiter at the Commercial, recalls that it was sometimes the practice of patrons to leave their money sitting atop the bar ready for their next drink.
If they left the bar for any reason, "Ma" Anderson would scoop up the money and place it in the donation tin for the Hospital Auxiliary.
In October 1960 Alma Anderson sold the hotel to Ray, Brian and Shirley Butler. The Butlers managed the hotel, sometimes leasing it out, for 23 years.
Over that period, they made several alterations to the hotel's bars and lounges.
In February 1984 the Butlers sold the hotel to a company, Woolamine Proprietary Limited, after which a succession of licensees ran the hotel.
Local businessman, Gary Jelly, purchased the hotel in 2012 and ran it for eight years before selling to a Melbourne-based consortium in early 2020.
The new owners commenced renovating the hotel but were interrupted by the emergence of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Horsham Historical Society is located at the Mechanics Institute, 33 Pynsent Street, Horsham.
Due to the second surge in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Horsham Historical Society is again closed.
Requests for historical information can always be made via our research tab at: www.vicnet.net.au/~hhs.