Eagle Archive: From Hoffman's Inn, Mike Eaton inspired a love of Carroll living

In a 2009 edition of the Historical Society of Carroll County publication, Carroll Courier, there is a picture dated March 1, 1950, of 5-year old Sally Adams with her cocker spaniel, Ricky, in front of Hoffman's Inn, 216 E. Main St., Westminster.

The photo accompanied a first-hand personal account of life on East Main Street and at Hoffman's Inn, from 1945 to 1961. The property is now known as Historical Society's gift shop, the Shop at Cockey's.

Early history of the property, which dates back to the 1820s, is complicated and reads like a Victorian soap opera. Nevertheless, it's where a great deal of the planning and creation of Carroll County took place. After the county was formed, Cockey's served for many years as part of the seat of county government.

"In 1922 Frank and Mary Hoffman bought the building and it became Hoffman's Inn and Boarding House. It was inherited by their daughter and operated by Thelma Hoffman until 1969."

William Granville "Mike" Eaton lived on the third floor of Hoffman's Inn for many years. Eaton came to Westminster in 1926 to attend then-Western Maryland College, now McDaniel, where he graduated in 1930. It was in that year that he began his teaching career at Elmer A. Wolfe High School in Union Bridge.

Eaton went on to become a beloved and inspirational English and drama instructor who later taught at Westminster High School from 1935 to 1971.

Adams grew up at 218 E. Main St., next door to Hoffman's, from around 1945 to 1961. According to Adams, "All three meals were served to guest and boarders, but the Sunday mid-day dinner and some evening dinners were open to the public. People came 'up from the city' to experience the joy of these family-styled meals.

"Of course there were lots of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables from the local farmers served along with the hot homemade rolls. The chickens were raised out back, down by the alley in the large shed."

In March 2011 the Historical Society established a scholarship to honor the memory of Eaton. The first two Mike Eaton scholarships were awarded in June 2011 to graduating seniors from Westminster High, based on an essay about the students' most influential teacher. The teachers in the winning essays were also recognized at the awards ceremonies.

This year's application forms for the Eaton scholarships are available from the Historical Society and are due April 26. Applicants for the $500 scholarship must be Westminster High School seniors, and should submit an essay about their most influential teacher. Contact the Historical Society for details, at hscc@carr.org or 410-848-6494.

It was Eaton who instilled in a young Kevin Dayhoff a love of all things about writing and Shakespeare. When he is not re-reading his favorite Shakespeare play, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com

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