Caleb Pearson, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, came to the Pine Ground section of (North) Chichester around the year 1784 to build a grain mill and a fulling mill. Around that time, Pearson also began selling food and spirits to travelers in a Tavern which he built on the corner of the common. In the early 1800s, Pearson added a dye house and began producing fabric.
In 1820 James W. Towle began expansion of Pearson’s Tavern/Trading Post, and in 1823 purchased the building from Pearson, and moved it across the street onto land he purchased from the Town –there, it currently sits, on Main Street, and is known as the Chichester Country Store.
Towle sold the property in 1847 to George P. Haines who further expanded the store to include a post office, as well as an inn. The house was used as a tavern and the barn contained stalls for travelers’ horses. The store quickly became a stop for the stage coaches which passed through town 2-3 times per week.
Haines was the first to manufacture friction matches in the area and also carried on an extensive shoe manufacturing business on the property.
In 1867, Haines’ son, George H. Haines, began a carriage business with Ruben Locke and his four sons but production was interrupted after five years because of the Civil War.
The senior George Haines, along with his son, then solely operated the store and the carriage business, until the 1890’s when the son took over full operation after his father’s death. No record of the demise of the carriage business is recorded but probably declined due to the rise of the automobile.
In 1906, as Haines’ health declined, Harry S. Kelley and George Lake took over ownership of the store.
Kelley and Lake separated partnership when Mr. Lake establish a store on Bear Hill Road.
Kelley continued operation of the store until his death in 1951 at which time it was taken over by his wife Belle and daughter Mary Ordway.
In 1955, the store was purchased by the Varney family, and later by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Frary.
The store weathered through a few transitions until in 2009 it was re-opened in its original capacity –serving its community and passers. To some, the Country Store is now even a destination stop --where patrons can browse the century-and-a-half old Country Store, enjoy a homemade apple cider donut, a country breakfast, soup, or a specialty sandwich in the self-serve dining area, hosted by its current caretakers, Ronald and Robin Panneton.
Hopefully, this historic property can be preserved and enjoyed for generations to come.
A special “Thank You” goes to the Chichester Historical Society and the late Walter L. Sanborn for the wonderful archives of facts and photos.
Some facts herein have been established from THE DIARY OF JONATHAN PEARSON, (Jonathan Pearson was the Grandson of Caleb Pearson, and was born and raised here in Chichester, in the original building)