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A History of Sheldon Springs Retail

Retail possibly began before Henry Mower built a store in what is now known as Sheldon Springs. Henry and his wife Martha arrived in Sheldon in the mid 1800s and lived here the rest of their lives. Born to them were Harlow Mower who became a renowned businessman, Arthur Mower who died in 1910 at a young age and Lillian Mower Machia who later in life moved with her husband William to Massachusettes where Harlow is noted to have visited in the mid 1950s. Henry anbd Martha were the grand parents of Grace Mower Winchester the long time town clerk and treasurer of Sheldon know to may people still living in Sheldon.

The 1871 Map of shows a store opposite Congress Hotel on the NW Corner of Main Street and Shawville Road

The 1871 map showing the store on the NW Corner in the village signifies that it was mapped after Henry moved the store. In 1868 Henry's store stood on the location noted as the Congress Hotel. In 1868 Henry and a group of owners conglomerated 250 acres of land on the SW corner of Main and Shawville and sold it to one Samuel Fitch of New York City who then built the Congress Hotel. In order to accommodate the sale Henry moved the store using oxen to the opposite side of the road. This original store apparently burned in 1872 shortly after the move. Henry's new store built around 1877 occupied the same site that would eventually become the Missisquoi Market and Joe's Country store until 1983 when it would be demolished for the construction of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Dept.

After rebuilding the store Henry became ill. Harlow returned from Massachusetts where went to learn the retail trade as an apprentice and along with his brother Arthur took part in the family business. Neither appeared to enjoy the enterprise and in 1800 Henry elected to go into partnership with his son-in-law and daughter William W and Lillian M Machia. On Jan 13, 1899 Martha Mower sold the property and business to the Machias who owned it for only a short period of time before selling it to J F Shepley the founder of the Mississquoi Pulp and Paper Company.

Sheldon Springs evolved quickly into a company town with businesses, homes, the the factory expanding to accommodate the growth in the trade and to house and supply the many employees of the day.

This may be the period of time when both the Post Office and a doctor's office occupied part of the first floor.

We find no land records which would indicate that the store property purchased by the mill ever entered into other ownership before being torn down. There were however a number of business proprietors who leased the store from the mill

1900 - Mr Cool
1902 - George Marsh
1907 to 1920 Unknown likely run directly by the mil
1920 to 1941 Herman Royce for many years followed by Cleveland Bushey and eward Sears
1941 first of many lease agreements with J. Gordon Lumnah until 1959 filing of a "Cessation of doing business as the Missisquoi Market

Donald Little (standing on the left) and his Brother-in-law Bill Hojaboom in front of the store.

Sheldon Springs Depot and Royce's Store

Royce Store 1920s

On March 20 1959 Clement "Joe" Chagnon leased the store from the then Missisquoi Division of the Standard Packaging Company, or the Mill, and registered his business as Joe's Country Store. He continued in business until May 1966 when he sold the business to Richard Rayno and Peter Perley who continued to run the store as "Joes" until closing it for business. Although we did not uncover a record of the date we do know that due to occurances in the 60s and 70s that would divert traffic and commerce away from the "Main Street" location and that the sale of "Mill" properties to private individual as well as the demolition of some company houses would lead to less shoppers as well as other factors the store went into its final failure and closed for good.

The opening of a store by "Andy" Luneau at the intersection of Main Street and the "New" route 105 soon replaced the old store's need. The Luneau Era is best told in another story.

Homer Durkee built the "Mini Mart" some time later. Two "Quick Stop" types of stores continue to serve the area.

The 1982 study by the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation, Historic Sites and Structures Survey, Franklin County, Sheldon provides us with one last look at the store with this "negative" of their photo and this description "Company owned village market; 2 1/2 story, gable front with two story flat roofed ell on north. Clapboarded, Shed roofed, loading dock across the front. Frieze and corner boards. Windows all boarded up. Enclosed second floor balcony on center front has shed roof. Two story enclosed stairwell porch on south.