The settlement of Homestead began in 1842. In 1850 a stagecoach stop was built in “downtown” Homestead. By 1856 Henry Sprague platted it as a village site, consisting of 4 blocks divided by two streets: State and Plum. In 1859 the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad came to Homestead. The Community of True Inspiration first settled in the area in 1855. Desiring a rail link for their goods, they purchased Homestead along with 200 plus acres and added it to the other 6 villages known as The Amana’s. In 1860, The Amana Society built a depot in “Uptown” Homestead. Homestead was one mile long, divided into “Uptown” and “Downtown” by a large apple orchard.
With the influx of salesmen and travelers due to the stagecoach stop and railroad, it was determined that a hotel was needed to house the travelers. In 1862 The Homestead Hotel was built consisting of 15 rooms and 1 bathroom upstairs, with a large kitchen, dining room, and residence downstairs. Across the street to the North were the stables and a horse barn.
On April 11, 1890, there was a strong south wind. Sometime between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. a chimney fire began in the kitchen of the hotel. They were able to telephone Amana for help, and thankfully the winds died down which slowed the fire. In the lower level, which was the kitchen, most things were saved but in the upper level, nothing could be saved. The hotel was rebuilt by the fall of 1890.
Over the years the hotel enjoyed many Inn Keepers. C.A. and Marie Eichacker were the last Inn Keepers of The Homestead Hotel. They had purchased the hotel in 1932 and ran if for many years. In December of 1938 they installed a gas range.
In 1949, Bill and Connie (Moerschel) Zuber purchased The Homestead Hotel from the Eichacker’s and transformed it into Bill Zuber’s Dugout Restaurant. Bill Zuber was a Middle Amana native and Connie was a Homestead native. Bill Zuber had a 19-year long career in baseball playing for the Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox, and the New York Yankees. The Zuber’s operated the restaurant from 1949 – 2006. In 1961 the Zuber’s added a building, which had served many uses (a wash house, woodshed, livery stable, youth hostel), to the restaurant, which then became known as the Wagon Wheel room. At the same time they enclosed what is now our lobby area-this used to be a grassy area. An archway was built leading to the other rooms. Leftover bricks found at the Homestead brickyard, dating from 1890, were used for this archway. If you stand under the archway and look up, you will see a paw print of a wolf in one brick. Brick found in other parts of the hotel came from streets in Iowa City and the Depot in Homestead.
In 2004, David and Yana Cutler purchased Bill Zuber’s Dugout Restaurant. The Cutler’s did extensive remodeling of the building. In 2007 they re-opened the old hotel then restaurant as Zuber’s Homestead Hotel. It now housed 15 uniquely decorated prairie themed rooms each with a private bathroom. The Wagon Wheel room became The Woodshed Gathering Room where a buffet breakfast is served daily. Guests also gather to visit, watch T.V., or play games in the relaxing family room.
In May of 2013, Brian and Bonnie James purchased Zuber’s Homestead Hotel from the Cutlers. As the new Inn Keepers of this unique and wonderful part of Amana history, the James’ continue to offer a relaxing and memorable stay at Zuber’s Homestead Hotel. Come and visit our unique bed and breakfast style hotel. Each of the 15 rooms are decorated with an Iowa related theme. We look forward to many years of meeting guests, making new friends, and sharing stories.