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Remembering the Skyscraper in uptown Hillsboro

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, the younger folks may not be aware that for more than 40 years, there was a Skyscraper in uptown Hillsboro. In fact, the Skyscraper was built close to 90 years ago on North High Street.

Now, the Skyscraper wasn’t a skyscraper at all – far from it. Of course, locals who have been around the block a few times know it was a restaurant. Bill Hapner, who opened the restaurant on Sept. 28, 1931, thought it was a good joke to call his new five-cent hamburger stand the Skyscraper.

When it was first opened, it was reported that the “building was 8x9x6 feet high and there were no stools. Five people could stand inside, and there was a window through which service could be made to those outside.”

When the Skyscraper opened, there was a fall festival in progress and the town was crowded. Hamburgers and coffee only were served during the first week, and when the festival ended, soup, hot dogs and pie were added to the menu.

The Skyscraper building was a work in progress, as an extension was built in October of 1931 and five stools were added. In 1932, a small kitchen was built and 24-hour service began. This lasted nine years and nine months, closing when rationing began due to World War II. In the meantime, the present two-story building at 127 North High Street had been built in stages and was completed around 1935-36.

It was said that in the two or three years prior to rationing, the standard order for buns was 1,000 a day on weekdays and 1,500 or Saturdays and Sundays. The hunting season almost doubled the business on opening days. Now, that’s a lot of buns in a week.

Speaking of hunters, the Skyscraper would often open at 3 or 4 a.m. on certain days of hunting season, and in 1967, the Skyscraper advertised a “fried mush breakfast” for only 55 cents – including coffee. They also sold hunting licenses and ammo.

For the first 10 years of the Skyscraper, sandwiches, pie, soup and milk were a nickel. Pancakes were 15 cents, waffles 20 cents with a drink and bacon, eggs, toast and a drink were a quarter.

In these offerings, I like to name names, and during the latter part of the 24-hour operation at the Skyscraper, there were about 12 employees. Dalton Holmes, Harold Bell, John Utman, Noble Berry, Ted Chaney and Roy Kratzer were among those in the night crews, and there were at least 50 employees during the period of Bill Hapner’s operation.

Hapner sold out to the Davis Brothers on April 1, 1946, and from that point until the 1970s, there were several other owners, including Mac McKibben, George Stratton, Mr. and Mrs. D.P. Dickerson, James R. Loukx (the son-in-law of Bill Hapner), Jack Stethem and Gertrude Hopkins, and Lillian Thoroman, who was the owner when the Skyscraper celebrated its 40th year in business in 1971.

By that time, the Skyscraper could seat approximately 72 people – a whole lot more than the five back in the 1930s.

The café remained in business for several more years, when it was decided that the space needed so much in the way of equipment replacement and remodeling that the Skyscraper should just cease operation.

A remodeling project was undertaken to convert the space into offices, and the Hapner Law Office, which had previously occupied the second floor over the restaurant, was able to move down to that first-floor location where it has remained to the present day.

Do you remember the Skyscraper?

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached at

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