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Main Street, Chepachet

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Putnam Pike is Chepachet's main street. The east side of the street especially preserves much of the Federal legacy of the town in an array of boxy buildings, which is all the more remarkable in that a number of them maintain their original uses. The fairly unprepossessing, clapboard-fronted, otherwise shingled house with its gable end to the street at 1189 Putnam Pike (corner of Oil Mill Lane) was originally the Franklin Bank ( GL6; c. 1818, front door obviously modern) until closed in 1865. Two plain side-lighted doors open to the lane. The building with the long veranda next to the bank ( GL7; original building, 1814; number 1187) received this addition when a store and harness shop became the Central Hotel. Farther along, at 1181 Putnam Pike, is the Job Armstrong Store, now the Art Center and Glocester Heritage Society ( GL8; 1814). It retains the general quality of an early nineteenth-century store, although its shop windows appear to be a restoration. Adjacent, at 1179 Putnam Pike, is the Brown and Hopkins Store ( GL9; c. 1809), which advertises itself as the oldest continuously operated store in the United States. It is now a country store and antique shop with competitors in other nineteenth-century buildings along the street.

Just across the bridge of the Chepachet River (where the West Glocester Turnpike originated), at 1169 Putnam Pike, is the random stone and stucco building of the Lawton Owens Mill ( GL10; 1814 according to the inscription carved over the door, but this building seems to be 1820). Ironically, the original building of what became the sizable White complex and the clapboard boiler building behind were pretty much the survivors of the operation. The latter was saved by the present owner of Owens Mill even as the wrecking ball was poised in 1986 to smash this too. He hopes to approximate the clapboard mill buildings which were once attached in two stages to the original stone block. Interior flooring and framework in the stone building were rebuilt from a gutted interior and do not duplicate the original construction. The Masonic Friendship Lodge No. 7 ( GL11; 1814), hard beside the stone mill, at 1167 Putnam Pike, boasts a fine Federal-period door with a broken pediment over a semicircular transom light. Its upstairs lodge room is considered to be the oldest such hall in continuous use in the state. Next, a gas station craters the row followed by what is now called the Stagecoach Tavern, originally Cyrus Cook's Tavern ( GL12; c. 1800; 1157 Putnam Pike), in fact built as a coaching stop shortly after the completion of the toll road. The long piazza is another later nineteenth-century addition.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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