The Village Store
The Village Store – Then and Now
A History of Bridgewater’s Cherished Landmark
In Honor of its Centennial, July 1999
The Village Store on Main Street has been the veritable heartbeat of Bridgewater for Generations. Countless youngsters have been drawn to the penny candy counter while their parents caught up on the day’s news and gossip. The store has been a welcoming oasis for road-weary travelers looking for a quick refreshment or some knowing directions before hitting the road again. For the past century, the large, century-old clapboard structure with its 50 foot tower, situated amid shady elms and large, neat manicured lawns and white Colonial homes, has lent a sleepy charm to this rural hamlet.
On weekdays local workers, or those passing through town, gather for a morning cup of coffee and to exchange greetings before heading off to work. In weary winter weather the road crews found a heartening refresher with their fill of hot coffee and homemade goodies. In recent times, Sunday mornings became a popular time for residents to stop by the general store to pick up a copy of The New York Times or local newspaper and exchange pleasantries while they order a fresh baked muffin or croissant to go.
As the years unfolded and the fabric of the community changed, so too, changed the town’s general store. Rock candy, snuff and ice cream sodas have been replaced with gourmet chocolate, fine teas and refreshing beverages. With each new owner came a host of changes and new challenges – but throughout its history the Village Store has remained a constant. It was, and still is, an open door to the lives of townspeople. The building proudly stands today – looking much as it did 100 years ago when it was Thompson’s mail order factory, with its worn, wooden floor and old tin ceiling – as a cherished reminder to those who visit of simpler, quieter times when community was the lifeblood of Bridgewater…
Chronology of Owners:
1899 – 1927 Charles B. Thompson
1927 – 1933 Peter Ognan
1937 – 1954 Levi M. Warner and Bruce Randall
1954 – 1983 Donald K. and Eleanor S. Gowan
1983 – 1986 Harold and Nancy Noble
1986 – 1989 Garrett F. and Patricia E. Cooper
1989 – Present Leni and Peter May