Local History by Ron Patch: Allie Hawkes

Allie Hawkes was born in Chester in 1884, living ‘til 1970. Allie had been Chester town manager. Thankfully, he recorded some of his early Chester memories.

In 1987 Martha Bessey made notes in the margins of Allie’s typewritten histories. Martha’s notes made it possible for me to identify many of the places Allie writes of.


Chester Boot Shop showing the intersection of Main, Depot and Grafton streets. Photo provided
Chester Boot Shop showing the intersection of Main, Depot and Grafton streets. Photo provided

North Main Street

“Beginning at the north end of Main St., in front of the Zela Edson place they had Country Fairs and horse racing.” Today, Roseann Sexton lives here.

“Coming down to where Mr. Gardener’s people now live was the so called No. 6 school district where we all went to school from Church St.” Today, this location is two places beyond Baba Louis’.

“Allen’s garage looks about the same and at that time was a paint shop run by Mr. Bowles.” This today is Knockout Carpet.

Main Street

“Years ago there were just two or three telephones in Chester. The central phone was located at Pierce’s drug store where Pember Hazen is now located.” This was Chester Drug Store next to the Masonic Lodge.

“Coming back on Main St. in back of the Baptist Church was another blacksmith shop run by Ethan Hall. The H.F. Crocker house has been built,” now Sarah Vail’s, “also the Pollard place in which Miss Pollard still lives.” This is the Charthouse next to the library. Both places were built in 1900. “The Whiting Library is kept by our librarian Miss Pollard.”

“A large hotel and boarding house stood where the First National Store now is,” today Bargain Corner. “The Hugh Henry Law Office has been used a good many years, by the late Hugh H. Henry. It was through him that in 1897 President William McKinley and Mrs. McKinley visited our town.”

“Dr. Griffith’s place has always been occupied by a doctor, first by Dr. Emerson and then Dr. Ray.” This is the brick house next to the entrance to the elementary school.

  Grafton Street

“Coming to Grafton St. there has not been many changes. The Bargfrede and Underhill houses are new. There is an old landmark which was one of the busiest places in Chester, the Old Cider and Grist Mill. People came from far and near to get their corn and oats ground. This was run by water power and later by steam. W.L. Ware owned and operated this mill.” It burned in the 1920s. It was located in the triangular corner at the intersection of Waldo and River streets.

“Back to the corner of Grafton and Main Streets is the old brick building,” across Grafton Street from Chester Hardware, “used for a Baptist Parsonage for a great many years. About 1900 the house below that was built which was used as a parsonage until recently.”

“Across the street where the Cray garage is located stood a building used as a shoe shop,” this was the Chester Boot Company. “They employed quite a number of men and women. Later the building was bought by Deacon Guild and was made into a grocery store and residence.” Today, this is the site of the old Jiffy Mart. Next spring Smitty’s will open their ice cream place here.

  Cobleigh Street

“On Cobleigh St. where Warren Heald now lives was the old family doctor, Dr. Gibson whom everyone admired.” This is where Rick Bates lived. “At the end of Cobleigh was a mill pond and wood working shop owned by Mr. Cobleigh. There was another blacksmith shop at the end of the street owned by Mr. Ed Batchelder.”

School Street

“In the brick building on the corner of School St.,” now Vintage Vermont, “was a tin shop and stoves were bought and sold. Mr. Hadley owned this. Where the Goldthwaite home now stands was a saw mill run by Lovejoy & Sons.” The Goldthwaite place is at the corner of School and Canal streets and was a tearoom in recent years. Canal Street used to be Lovejoy Avenue.

“When I was a boy there was of course no sidewalks, electric lights, or any city water. The sidewalks were put in about 47 years ago most which are still in use today. About 1899 the water was put in. The street lights were put in by a Stock Co. of which E.J. Davis the lead. The power was first developed at the old power mill at Factoryville of which part is still standing.” Factoryville is where our new emergency services building is being built.

  This week’s old saying: “He’s always trying to convince people he’s as important as he thinks he is.”

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