The Business Block, part of South Berwick's Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been host to a variety of merchants through the years. In June 1871, the South Berwick business community published The Cornucopia, a newspaper with ads that appear on this page.
From The York County Atlas of 1872:
18-N.W. Kendall Stationer
17- Chas. E. Whitehead Tailor
16- Geo. W. Brookings Photo & Sewing Machine
15- C. J. Tyler Jewelry Store
14- Chas. Maloy, Boots and Shoes
13- Chas. E. Hobbs, Grocer
12- Rebecca Smith Millinery Store
11- S. W. Ricker Fancy Goods
10- C. C. Merrill Shoe Store
9- Union Store
8-J. P. Davis Stoves & Tinware
7-E. R. McIntire Hardware Store
6-8 Masonic Hall Block
6-N. Hanson, Druggist
Read some history of the South Berwick Business Block
This stationery store seems to have been at this location only a short time after 1871. The store then seems to have been occupied by the Whitehead tailor shop. South Berwick Pharmacy is now at this location.
Charles E. Whitehead (c. 1817-1878) was married to Mary B. Whitehead (1826-1908). They seem to have lived in South Berwick as early as the 1850s, and his shop was one of the ones destroyed in the fire of 1870. They had at least six children, and lived at 324 Main Street at the corner of Norton Street. Their son, John B. Whitehead, born in 1852, continued in his father’s profession and operated a men’s clothing store in South Berwick. He died in 1942. South Berwick Pharmacy and Thistle Pig restaurant now occupy this location.
In 1871 and 1872, the Tyler Jewelry Store was next door to Geo. W. Brookings Photographer & Sewing Machine Agent. In the 1880 History of York County, George W. Brookings was listed as selling musical instruments and sewing machines. For a time he also had a photography shop in Salmon Falls Mill Village. In the 20th century, Rideout's Hardware was in this store, with Flynn's Market nearby. Nature's Way Market sells groceries here today.
In October 1853, Charles Malloy of Rollinsford, NH, married Ellen J. Wentworth of Greenland, NH, according to Vital Records of Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick. Like many of the business people opening in the new business block, Malloy had owned one of the shops destroyed in the 1870 fire. He wrote some of the articles in The Cornucopia newspaper.
Charles E. Hobbs of South Berwick married Anna B. Wilson of Kittery in August 1871, just after the opening of his grocery store. The Hobbs shop may have later become the Maddox grocery store. Vacuum Village is probably the business located here today.
There were more than one Rebecca Smith living in South Berwick in the 1800s. Rebecca K. Smith lived from 1830-1919 and is buried in a family plot in Portland Street Cemetery. The 1880 History of York County reports that she had established her business in 1865. She may have been the unmarried daughter of a shoemaker named Frederick W. Smith (1802-1849), and have later helped support his wife, Mary Kenison Smith (1806-1875). Rebecca Smith's store was one of the businesses destroyed by the fire of 1870. South Berwick Pizza may be at this location today.
The Maine Business Directory of 1857 listed Shipley W. Ricker as an agent in insurance, and Mary W. Ricker as a dealer in “millinery and fancy goods,” and likely they were related. Vital records and cemetery stones show that Mary Walton Ricker (c.1790–1869) had been married to Capt. Elijah Ricker, who was lost at sea in 1826, aged 40. Apparently she then kept a “fancy goods” shop, possibly out of her home, in the area later burned in the fire of 1870. Shipley Ricker (1827-1905), perhaps her son, established a general store in 1846, with products that included West Indies goods. His daughter, also named Mary W. Ricker (1863-1912), later managed the fancy goods shop, according to some local memoirs, until she married. In 1872, Shipley Ricker, active with the insurance business and many mercantile ventures, lived in the Nathanael Low house on Portland Street.
The newspaper ad from The Cornucopia of 1871 shows that shoemaker Charles C. Merrill (1831-1876) had been in the Huntress Block, but then moved into the new brick block in 1872. His son, Benjamin (1855-1930), became a shoemaker also, according to Vital Records of Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick, and so was perhaps in business with him.
This was the South Berwick chapter of the first consumers’ cooperative in the United States. “Union Store No. 79: General Goods was established by the New England Protective Union, with headquarters in Boston, Mass., about 1849, as a branch union,” reported the 1880 History of York County. “The store was once burned, but opened soon after. John S. Pike has been the agent since it first commenced business in the place.” Pike (c. 1815-1888) had earlier had a “hat, cap and fur business,” according to a memoir by Mary Jewett. In 1871, Pike lived in the Elisha and Sally Jewett House, 176 Portland Street, with his wife, Abby. Today, a thrift store called Union Store #79 still carries on this name.
The Davis family’s tinware business dates back to the early 1800s, when Richard Davis (1801-1895) and his partner, Ira Gilpatric, operated from a building near Quamphegan Landing, not far from the Baptist Church. For a time, they may have had a store near the present location of South Berwick Town Hall. For many years Richard Davis lived in the Judge Benjamin Chadbourne House, with Gilpatric living next door. “Gilpatric and Davis carried on an extensive tinware manufactory,” wrote resident George Washington Frosst in a memoir. “They employed several men as peddlers who penetrated York County far and near, exchanging their wares for either cash, old iron, rags, sheepskins, old pewter, brass, and lead. In fact, almost anything was accepted in those days in the way of trade.” An account of the fire of 1870 in the Dover Enquirer claimed that the blaze originated in yet another site, Joseph P. Davis’s tin shop. Bob's Sporting Goods may be at this location today.
Edward R. McIntire (1826-1886) established his hardware business in 1859, according to the History of York County. He lived on Grant Street and operated a shingle mill on a water-powered factory using the creek that today still runs under Salmon Street (Lower Main Street) in the Point section of the village.
In June 1871, the business community published The Cornucopia, a newspaper with ads that appear here.
Brothers Nicholas Hanson, Jr. (1831-1904) and Ebenezer S. Hanson (1825-1905) were in the pharmacy business together as early as the 1850s. They seem to have grown up in the Hanson Homestead at 143 Main Street. In the Maine Business Directory of 1857, Ebenezer was listed as an “ink manufacturer.” Nicholas was a Master Mason and member of St. John's Lodge, No. 51, and made his home in the Jedediah Jenkins House at 105 Portland Street. In 1872 he also ran a furniture business across the street in the former Brown Store. Early Bird Café is in this location today.