Commerce in Bartlett 1890 to 1960
Upper Village Area Albany Avenue
From 1900 to the early 1980's every day in Bartlett Village began with the 7 a.m. steam whistle at the Peg Mill which could be easily heard for several miles around. The noon break was similarly begun, and the day ended, at 5 p.m. when the final whistle of the day was sounded. For many, life revolved around the plaintive signal from the Mill.
When the first settlers arrived in Bartlett in the 1790's today's Upper Village was the "end of the line" as far as passable roads were concerned. It was not until 1807 when the Tenth Mountain Turnpike was completed through Crawford Notch that the Village became an important mid-way point along the way from Lancaster to Portland. It opened the way for artists and writers to more easily visit the area and through their written accounts and paintings the tourist industry was born. Teamsters in great caravans a quarter mile long, sometimes stopped in the Village and several stage lines also brought travelers who would stay the night before continuing through the Notch. It would be another seventy years until the boom generated by the railroad passing through town gave the Village a memorable boost.
Before the railroad came to Bartlett most activity revolved around self sufficient farming and small lodging houses. The population was about 670 in all of Bartlett. With the coming of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad in 1873, The Village of Bartlett realized a dramatic increase in population and commerce. The demand increased more when the railroad was completed through Crawford Notch in 1875. Unlike today, 100 years ago Bartlett Village was a bustling place. By 1890 the population was about 1200 but that number was about triple that during the summer months.
The precise history of exactly where many of the business were located is sketchy however; In 1893 (or 1896 depending which story you believe) the entire Village business district was destroyed by a fire that spread with lightening like rapidity. Within 2-½ hours but one store was left in the place. Fourteen families had been burned out and the Maine Central Railway Station, restaurant, and freight depot, together with the post office were destroyed. The other principal losses included: Mr. & Mrs. Foster, general store, -P.J. Martin, general store, - F. Garland, drugs and jewelry, -E.O. Garland building -J. Emery house, - J. Head house -H.E. Brooks grocery store, -H.L. Towle’s building, - A.L. Meserve building, -Miss Emily A. Merserve's tenement block, - Miss Bates, millinery.
The primary point being that most of the buildings in the Village Business area must be newer than the 1893 fire. Considering the great numbers of businesses that thrived here it is a little surprising that so few of them are remembered in any great detail or even where they were located.
Below is Albany Ave, 1915, looking North. Church steps on left, Post Office on the right and Howard Hotel.
Various sources identify these businesses as existing in the Village area about 1890: (We might assume that many of these were destroyed in the 1893 fire)
George Brothers Drygoods, Gents Furnishings, Boots and Shoes;
P.J. Martin, Clothing, Gents Furnishings and Undertaking;
W.S.Foster - Livery & Boarding Stable;
Frank Simono, Barber & Shoemaker;
P. Fortier, Barber;
H.L. Brooks & Co. Groceries-Meats-Provisions;
E. Sarson, General Store
E.O. Garland General Mdse;
Garland, Howard & Co, General Merchandise;
Ed Butler, Groceries, Confectionery & Cigars;
F.E. Garland, Drugs & Jewelry;
Geo. M. Knowles, Newsroom & Barber
By the 1920's the following business names were added to the list:
The Howard Garage, repairs and gasoline, air and storage;
Garland's Ice Cream Parlor and Tea Room;
James Donahue's General Store;
Garland Bros. Drug Store;
In addition to these endeavors the Village also had a movie theater showing first "the silents" followed years later by "the talkies" , a pool room, a Village Band, two Doctors, two Churches and there was a bowling alley on River Street. The Bartlett Free Public Library (established in 1896) was housed on the lower level of the Congregational Church. The Village also had its own jail located just off Albany Avenue on the south side of the railroad tracks. One must remember that during these days there were no paved roads between Bartlett and Portland and most traffic came and went by train.
Additionally there were at least a dozen Inns and lodging places in the Village that served the travelling public.
For a time, Upper Bartlett Village was "the place to be", out-ranking nearby North Conway, which holds that distinction today.
Garland's Store, Barbershop and Post Office on Albany Ave. No Date was provided but probably in the 1940-1950 range. Garlands was a drug store, but also sold clothing, footwear and hardware. This building is on Albany Avenue, just across the tracks on the right...Most recently it has been transformed to apartments.
The brown building at the center of the lower picture was most recently Jacobson's Grocery Store. Now (2019) the building is gone and now a vacant lot.
Pictured above is the G.K. Howard Store, also on Albany Avenue. Later it was The General Thermostat Factory. Driving south on Albany Ave towards Bear Notch Road it was just across the tracks on the left. Today there are some condo type units in the same spot.
There was a building just before the tracks on the right that housed Wimpy Thurston's Grocery Store, later operated by the Jacobson's. The building looked similar to the GK Howard Store but without the dormers. Today that site is an empty lot.
Mr. Howard at his office, below. The line down the right side of the picture is not a wrinkle...it's an electric wire.
Granville K Howard
Mr. Howard was born in Hartford, Vt., in 1864, he was graduated from Dartmouth in the class of 1886 and always kept up his interests in the activities of the college. In 1887 he married Nellie Bailey of Landgrove, Vt., and two years later he moved to Bartlett.
From that time until his retirement in 1946 he was active in business, conducting a general store. In 1912 he built the Howard Hotel, which would later be known as the Bartlett Hotel. He owned "Howard's Camps", which later became Silver Springs Campground.
The Dunrovin Inn was originally the private Residence of GK Howard and before he opened the Howard Hotel he had taken in travelers at this location.
Mr. Howard held many town offices, having served as selectman and as a member of the school board. He was instrumental in forming the Bartlett Water Precinct of which he was treasurer for 51 years.
Always interested in the welfare of the town, one of his last acts was to give a plot of land opposite the hotel for a public park. For many years he was active in Osceola Lodge, I. O. O. F.,
He died in November of 1949.
The Dunrovin Inn: G.K. Howard's Inn and Residence. Photo about 1940.
Howard's Camp, later Silver Springs Campground.
1920's: Albany Avenue looking north towards today's Route 302. The storefront was later to be Wimpy Thurston's grocery store, followed by Jacobson's grocery store and thereafter it was briefly used as living space for Peter Marcoux with a youth center downstairs. It was later demolished and is an empty lot today (2019). I don't know what store it may have been at the time of this photo, the identifying signs are not readable, even when enlarged. The building next door is the Garland Hotel and next to that is the Union Congregational Church. Across from the Church was the former James Donahue General Store, which later became Mallett's Grocery Store.
1920's: Railroad Square. The railroad tracks are just off to the right of this picture. The first house on left was where Helen Hayes lived and took in boarders. The house burned in the 1980's and was replaced with the building that is there today (2019). Next to that, with the flat roof, is the I.O.O.F (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) Hall. It was also used by the Knights of Pythias. It also had a movie theater and stage for live performances.
The Lloyd Chandlers live in the next house today. The steeple (if that's what it's called) of the School is visible at right top. During the 1950's and 60's the foreground area was a popular spot for impromptu baseball games on weekends or after school. With the lack of an umpire some games became very contentious often ending with the owner of the balls and bats taking his equipment and going home. Some residents of that time period might remember playing "cowboys and Indians" in the woods, a popular game, however, in Bartlett, it was played with real guns...(although probably not loaded).
Meanwhile, out on main street.....
In the 1930's The Main Street through Bartlett was dominated by elm trees, residences, Inns, a few restaurants and bars and automobile service stations.
In 1854, Bartlett's first church, The Chapel of the Hills, occupied a spot in front of today's school. An establishment on Main Street known as the Red Rooster had a reputation as a popular "drinking" spot. A bit later, a similar establishment known as The Main Street Restaurant was operated by Eleanor Macumber across the street from Howard's Texaco. Farther west on Main Street, Bob Davis operated a home heating oil business. Bartlett Village streets were lined with mature elm trees up until the mid 1940's when the Dutch Elm disease decimated them and none remain today.
Fred and Grace Garland operated Garland's Tea Room, and later it was a restaurant and ice cream parlor know simply as "Garlands". It also had a few cabins, some of which are still there today. This restaurant operated until the early 1970's and was destroyed by fire. It was located just west of today's Post Office.
The What Not Shop was operated by Franklin and Almeda George from the mid 1940's. True to it's name, the store carried practically everything one could want in those days and even had an ice cream soda parlor. For quite a time they sold gasoline out front. Franklin was the Town tax collector in those days and he operated that activity from the store as well.
Franklin and his wife lived right across the street in the same house that his ancestors operated as an Inn in the mid 1800's.
After Franklin's death the store was operated by Dottie Howard for a few years and then by David & Debby Phanauef, who renamed it to the Bear Notch Deli. David later sold the store to The Ryans.
In January of 2009 the store was completely destroyed by fire caused by an electrical problem.
The top photo of the What Not Shop is from the mid 1950's
The Beginning of changing times.
As quickly as prosperity arrived, it departed almost as quickly, when rail passenger service on the Maine Central was discontinued in 1958. By 1983 freight service also ended and the Village fell silent, although most of the residents remained.
It is interesting to note the overall decline in merchandise and service businesses from 1960 through 2020; even though the overall Town population has nearly tripled over that time span the population of the Upper Village area has remained about the same, at least as near as can be told by outward appearances. It is estimated that fewer than 500 people reside in the immediate Village area.
This has been a result of changing modes of transportation and the centralization of businesses closer to the major population centers..(i.e. the Conway area). The economic realities of operating a business in smaller local's took its toll on the Upper Village area. When zoning was implemented in the 1980's all of Albany Avenue was zoned residential, thus excluding any business activities. Despite the changes over the years it seems today's residents of the Village area are quite content with everything just as it is.
The tourist industry has seen a significant change as travelers tastes and demands changed the smaller Inns and lodgings decreased correspondingly. Bartlett as a whole has prospered as Attitash and Storyland became the focus of attention supporting both the tourist business and a boom in condominium and second home construction and ownership in the town.