1816 – The inhabitants of the town of Harvard sold a piece of land at the lower, southern, end of the Common. This part of the Common was separated from the main Common by the roads to Bolton and Still River. The new owner, Jason Bigelow, was a carpenter and built — with help of family and friends — the first store on the site. It was the first building in Harvard to be used exclusively as a store.
1817 – Jason Bigelow sold to John Walker who ran the store for just a few years and then sold it.
1820 – Bought by Seth Nason & John P. Whitcomb who built a stable between the store and the school.
1831 – Silas Holman map shows a book store run by Nathanial Stacy in the building. He used it for a book store and bindery after Nason and Whitcomb gave up the trade. Benjamin S. Farnsworth, Jonathan Hosmer, Benjamin F Whitney, Churchill and Porter, and Ebenezer C. Willard were all in turn retailers in this site.
February 28, 1850 – The first building burned.
May 11, 1850 – from the diary of Thrumbull Bull: “bought a piece of land with John Farwell where the store was burned, measuring 30X40 ft and the privilege for shed which was granted by the town for which we paid $132.50 one-half each. We bought it for a building for the Odd Fellows who wished to take it and erect a building for a store on the first floor, shops or offices on the 2nd and the Odd Fellows Hall in the attic.”
The building was owned by the Union Hall Company. John Farwell was a well-known real estate agent and was involved in many Harvard properties through ownership or mortgage. Trumbull Bull was a charter member of the Odd Fellows which may have been a driving force that helped them secure a meeting place.
Over the years, the store had the following tenants:
1852 – William Harlow and Ebenezer C. Willard.
1853 – Harlow sold his share to his partner Willard.
1855 – A.R Willard and George Wetherbee, Wetherbee died in 1858.
1859 – 64 – Charles and Everett Hussey.
1866 – John B. Day and Lemuel Whitney.
1869 – Day and Whitney sold to Trumbull Bull and Fred Willard.
1877 – Bull and Willard moved to the store at the end of what is now known as the Harvard Inn, 11 Fairbank Street.
1878 – Trumbull Bull died.
1881 – Henry H. Gale and his brother George T. Gale rented the unoccupied store in the Union Hall building. They opened a store first known as Gale Brothers. After a very short time George Gale sold his interest to Philip O. Dickson and the store became Gale and Dickson. Gale & Dickson bought Frederick Willard’s good will and stock in trade and he closed his store in the “Harvard Inn” building.
At some point, the building was bought by The Gales and Dickson.
1896 – George Gale rejoined the company and the name changed to Gale, Dickson and Co. The Union Hall building was moved to what is now 9 Massachusetts Avenue and used for grain storage with an apartment upstairs. This building was pulled down in 1956 to make way for a building to house the Post Office. The present flat roofed three story building was built in the same location as the old store had been. After several years Mr. Dickson withdrew because of poor health and the name changed again to Gale Bros.
1916 – The stock was sold to Bill Kerley, Reuben Reed and Wallace Bryant and the store became known as Kerley, Reed, & Bryant. Bill Kerley died in 1941, Wallace Bryant in 1967 and Reuben Reed in 1971. Reuben’s son, David Reed, gradually took over running the store in the late 1950s and early 60s. He ran it first as a general store with groceries and later as a clothing store. Ed Pieters, Reuben Reed’s son-in-law, married to Mary Reed Pieters, sold general merchandise and gifts on the second floor.
1934 – Wine and Malt Beverage License awarded by the Town of Harvard to the General Store, expired in 1934.
1968 – Kerley, Reed & Bryant closed its doors.
1970 – Larry Kaplan opened The Clothes Corner selling women’s clothing.
1978 – Joyce and Will Garrick bought the building and moved the Harvard Pharmacy and the Camera Center from the Post Office building at 9 Massachusetts Avenue to the building and it became known as the General Store.
2007 – Store bought and renovated by Adam and Lyn Horowitz.
May, 2010 – Amy Bernhardt and Doug Coots joined Adam and Lyn Horowitz as Partners; Adam and Lyn relocated to England where Adam accepted a position with Bank of America.
June, 2010 – Wine and Malt Beverage License awarded by the Town of Harvard to the General Store, the first of only three to be activated.
July 1, 2010 – “Upstairs @ The General” launches the sale of fine wine and craft beer to a very thirsty crowd!
August 12, 2012 – The General Store is sold to Scott Hayward who aims to reinvigorate its community.
- Anderson, Robert C. Directions of a Town: A History of Harvard, Massachusetts. Np: Harvard Historical Society, 1993
- Harvard History: 1894-1940 compiled by Ida A. Harris. Np: Harvard Historical Society, 1940
- Newton, Dianne M. The Harvard Album. Np Harvard Historical Society, 1997
- Norse, Henry S. History of the Town of Harvard Massachusetts: 1732-1893. Np: printed for Warren Hapgood, 1894
- Scorgie, Elvira. “The General Storekeepers: from 1816-1980” The Harvard Post, February 8, 1980:9
- Savage Sr, F.S. Memoirs of Old Harvard Days: 1863-1924 also The Men and Their Descendants who Made Harvard What it is Today. published by author, 1924