Friday, November 2, 2007

The Seaver Store

If I judge the old maps correctly, the Seaver store stood where Blanchards' Liquors is now. They owned the land back through today's parking lot to the house that faces out to Thomas street, and there were multiple building on the property. I believe the family kept the store until the 1930s - really a remarkable run. Blanchards' was there when I moved to the neighborhood in 1961, and the building looks to be 1950s vintage. Such is "progress."

The Globe continues to spell Centre incorrectly. I'm beginning to think it was an editorial decision to "correct" the spelling.

Boston Daily Globe November 30, 1913

Oldest Grocery Store In Greater Boston

Has Been in Hands of Seaver Family Since Foundation in 1796

Probably few of the thousands who daily pass the establishment of Robert Seaver & Co on Center[sic] st, Jamaica Plain, realize that this is the oldest grocery store in Greater Boston and probably in Massachusetts, and that the store has been continuously in the hands of the Seaver family since its foundation by Joshua Seaver in 1706.

Joshua Seaver, who was born in 1737, was for many years an instructor of youth in Jamaica Plain. In 1796, after retiring from the teaching profession, he bought an old store where the present establishment stands, and where Gen Washington and his troops had obtained their supplies during the Revolution. Seaver erected a new building on the site where the old store stood, and Robert Seaver and his brother Frederick, are still doing a flourishing business in the same building, which is unchanged save for an addition in the front of the store.

In the olden days the store was the first stop for the stage coach on its trip from Boston to Providence, and here the travelers stopped to eat their lunch and sip their toddies. President Adams was a frequent visitor to the store, as well as many of the military and political celebrities of the time.

The business grew from year to year, and for upwards of half a century it was the only grocery store south of Ruggles st, Roxbury, between Boston and Providence. From 1833 to 1885 Robert Seaver, the father of the present owners, presided over the destinies of the store with marked success. Mr Seaver was a man of mark in the community, serving in the lower house, the Senate, and holding positions of selectman, foreman of the Fire Department, and many other responsible offices in the old town of West Roxbury.

Frederick and Robert Seaver, sons of Robert, who have conducted the store since the death of their father in 1885 are among the most prominent citizens of Jamaica Plain, being members of the Eliot Lodge of Masons, the Jamaica Club, the Eliot Club, and many other prominent organizations of the district.

Included among their customers are many the names of whose families have been on the books of the firm for upwards of three-quarters of a century. Francis Parkman, the famous historian, whiled away many an hour with Robert Seaver. seated on the flour barrels, and trudged home at the end of the day with his purchases. William J. Peters, father of Congressman Andrew J. Peters, was, like his son, a steady customer, as was Gen Francis Greene, who won his fame and title in the War of 1812. The members of the Curtis family have traded with the Seaver firm from the dawn of the 19th Century to the present day, as have nearly all families of note in the ancient town of West Roxbury.

Joshua Seaver was one of the largest landholders of his time. He lived in the house in which he as born, which still stands in the rear of the store. His acres embraced nearly all the territory surrounding Jamaica Pond, now dotted with hundreds of residences of the well-to-do, and he drove his coach and four through the streets of Jamaica Plain.

The Seavers hold among their most prized posessions every license which has been issued to their family since the establishment of the store in 1794 up to the present day, and are justly proud of the fact that they are the owners of the oldest and one of the busiest grocery stores in the state.

Both Messrs Frederick and Robert Seaver are also proud of the fact that they have been constant subscribers to the Globe since its first issue.

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