History of the Putney General Store
Monday, July 25 2005 @ 08:09 PM EDT
Contributed by: Paul LeVasseur
The Putney General store was originally built in 1769 as a grist mill on the banks of Sacketts Brook. In 1843 it became a store, and has been in continuous operation ever since. The building was constructed using the classic salt box, post and beam construction method with hand hewn beams from local forests.
You can still see the original beams, floor joists and wood work in the interior, and the Sacketts brook waterfall outside, today. The store was located at the crossroads of (what was to become) old US Route 5 (aka Main Street) in Putney, and the road leading to Westminster West, Vermont now known as Kimball Hill.
These roads were once called "post roads", because of the postmen who established them. The roads criss-crossed each other as they did throughout the state. Between 1797 and 1810, 13 post roads crossed the state. In 1797 a post office was opened in East Putney with John Goodwin as the postmaster. The Post office was later moved into the General Store building, around 1853.
The land on which the store stands was originally part of a two-acre saw mill parcel that used the brook for power. In 1765 Charles Kathan of the Kathan family was said to have erected the first saw mill in Putney, circa 1765. Shortly before his death in 1793, Charles Kathan sold the parcel to William Samual Works of Westmoreland, who then sold the property to William Sargent of Dummerston and Jonathan Sargent of Ware, Mass. Records revealed that the sale that year netted a profit of six pounds. The original building was constructed by William and John Griffin and went through many owners and many changes over the years.
In 1823 Asa Keyes II, Israel Keyes and Joel Keyes (all of Putney), and Asa Britton of Chesterfield, NH bought the store in trust for James Keyes and Isaac Grout for the price of $850.00. Grout relinquished his interest in April of 1826 shortly after purchasing the store to the west (a hardware store, and formally the old Putney Coop) called the Silver Forest
The old grist mill was converted to a general store around 1840, and by 1843 it was open for business. In 1846 the title of the store was transferred to Peyton R. Chandler and Rollin W. Keyes who operated it as "Chandler and Keyes." It is believed that the General Store housed the post office at that time, which apparently occupied the Southeast corner of the main room from 1856 to 1886. The store eventually became known as the C.W. Keyes General Store, named after postmaster James Keyes. The store and post office quickly became the center of Putney.
In the late 1800' (around 1886), half interest was sold to Adelbert M. Corser for $962.50 who then (in 1989), along with his wife Minnie, purchased the remanning half. The picture to the right is one of the many pictures of that period. Minnie Corser was an avid photographer, many of her photographic glass plates can still be seen at the town hall, home of the Putney Historic Society.
In 1915 the store changed hands again and became the S.L Davis store, operated by Simon and Nyra Davis, of Westminster. The Davis' hold the record for the longest duration of ownership at 34 years.
In 1966 the store was bought by Albert and Mary Fickett and became known as Fickett's General Store. The Ficketts owned the store until 1974 when the Fairchilds took it over and named it the Putney General Store. The Fairchilds ran the store for 26 years as a traditional family business.
After 26 years Robert and Anne Fairchild passed the torch of ownership to Dan Mitnik and Shari Gliedman, who are now the 17th owners of the General store.
If you are interested in more history of the store or the surrounding area, you can contact the Putney Historical Society at PO Box 233 Putney VT 05346