During the present season the building on the corner of Main and Elliot streets, opposite the Revere House, and for many years past the residence of John R. Blake, Esq., has undergone a radical change which has materially altered the appearance of the estate. The front yard and surrounding trees have been removed and an addition made to the ground floor of the building on all four sides. The walls have been raised and a new roof placed thereon. The premises now form one of the most attractive features of our village.
The first story contains four stores which for eligibility, beauty, and convenience, cannot be excelled in this place. They are of sufficient width, very deep and uncommonly well lighted. The entire front of the building is glazed with English plate glass, the cost of which was from $1000 to $1200. The rooms are all very neatly finished and present an inviting appearance.
The first store, reckoning from the south side, has been leased by Messrs. Leith & Bryant, who have just commenced the Tailoring and Gentlemen's Furnishing business. If the products of this establishment shall equal in beauty and adaptation, the place of their manufacture this firm will never lack for good custom. Mr. H. D. Brackett is to occupy the north window as a stand for the Watch and Jewelry business.
The second store is leased by E. J. Carpenter, our well known periodical dealer. The great number of people who are dependent upon him for their newspapers and periodicals will be pleased to learn that their accommodations in the future will be much superior to those they have heretofore enjoyed. The Village Library is also to be kept in this shop, as Mr. Carpenter has been recently appointed Librarian.
Messrs. Crosby, Chandler & Co., now occupy the third store for the Flour, Grain and Produce business, in which they have recently embarked. We have no doubt they will do a satisfactory business. The other store has not been leased, and indeed, it is not yet quite completed.
The upper stories of this building contains two very convenient tenements, and two front rooms which are easily accessible, and will make very nice offices. Internally the building is arranged with an eye to comfort and convenience, while its exterior aspect is beautiful and inviting. The plan and specifications were made by Richard Bond, the architect of the Town Hall, and the work has been satisfactorily performed under the superintendence of that well known builder, Mr. Geo. A. Stearns, formerly of Northfield, Mass.
The carriage barn in the rear, and fronting on Elliot street is now being enlarged and remodeled for a stove and tin ware shop, and will be occupied for that purpose by Mr. Ashbel Dickinson.
We understand that the Central House, which is owned by Messrs. Geo. B. and John R. Blake, the proprietors of "Blake's Building," is to be closed on the first of January next for the purpose of being thoroughly renovated, repaired and otherwise greatly improved. The old barns in the rear, which have so long proved an eye sore to all beholders will be torn down, and a new building of sufficient capacity erected in their place. When all this is accomplished that portion of our village will wear an inviting aspect.
The picture of Blake block was made in 1860. The block was destroyed by fire on the morning of Sunday, October 31, 1869, together with other buildings to the north as far as High street . . . By looking at the photograph through a magnifying glass one may read the firm name, Hastings & Wilder, over the south store, next to the tree. The firm's window signs read "Drygoods, Carpets, Crockery, Groceries."
Next north of that was the store of E. J. Carpenter, whose window signs read "Newspapers, Magazines, Toys and Fancy Goods." Mr. Carpenter, who was in business in several locations during his lifetime, finally was proprietor of the store in Market block on Elliot street known for many years as the Brattleboro News Store.
Next north of Mr. Carpenter's store was a doorway leading to the second story. Then came a grocery store owned by Crosby & Chandler, later Chandler & Davenport, and finally by A. C. Davenport. The corner store was that of D. W. Lewis. He carried, the reading glass shows, "Boots, Shoes and Rubbers, Hats and Caps." In the basement under the north corner was a meat market where at one time the late W. F. Richardson was located.
In the course of the nine years from the time the photograph was made to the time of the fire, nine years later, various changes took place in tenants of the building. In the story of the fire . . . is the following paragraph:
"Across another alley and next building south of the hotel stood Blake's block, for the saving of which hopes were entertained, occupied by Clark & Willard's drug store, A. C. Davenport's grocery store, E. J. Carpenter as news dealer and village librarian, and Felton & Cheney, booksellers and stationers. The flames were subdued at this point, leaving the lower portion of the south wall standing. On the second floor of Blake block were the offices and dwellings of Doctor Charles W. Horton and Dentist A. L. Pettee."
As a matter of historical accuracy it should be stated that at the time of the fire Welcome Felton had been out of the firm of Felton & Cheney several months, having sold his interest to George H. Clapp in March, 1869, so that the firm was Cheney & Clapp. Mr. Cheney was Albert A. Cheney. Mr Clapp is the only survivor of the firm which was in business in the old block. The firm of Clark & Willard was made up of Barna A. Clark, afterwards in the hardware business, and Henry C. Willard.
Portraits For The History Of Brattleboro.
---Dr. John Ellis Blake of New York, a native of this village and only son of Hon. John R. Blake, who was born here before the beginning of this century, has recently presented to this town an accurate oil painting of the "Blake house," where he was born, as it appeared in 1843. This large brick mansion, of two stories, at the time of its erection by Jonathan Townshend in 1808, and many years thereafter, was the finest and most substantially built dwelling house in this place. Mr. Enoch Merriam, Capt. Elisha Briggs, and the father of our enterprising townsman, E. Crosby, Esq., were employed in the construction of this house, which stood where is now the south end of "Crosby block." It was occupied by Dea. John Holbrook, when he was publishing the large family Bible, and other works, to as late a period as 1825, when he was constructing his residence now occupied by Dr. Wm. H. Rockwell. Not only for the gift of this picture, which, by association, brings many others before us, is the community under obligation to Dr. Blake, but for the interest he has manifested and the valuable assistance he has rendered to make attractive the forthcoming history of Brattleboro. It is also a pleasure to learn that Col. Geo. W. Hooker has ordered six hundred lithograph portraits of Maj. Stephen Greenleaf for our history now in progress at Leonard's printing office. The portrait will be copied from that perfect oil painting of Maj. Greenleaf which now hangs on the walls of the town hall near the painting of his contemporary and friend, Hon. Lemuel Whitney. A photograph from the latter has already been taken and the friends of Judge Whitney will, we learn, furnish portraits of him for the work on Brattleboro. It is well to perpetuate the memory of these ancient worthies of the town. Col. Hooker has done a good thing and deserves the thanks of our citizens.
Article by Henry Burnham.
[The wooden sidewalk along the west side of Main Street here in this 1843 painting is chestnut planking. The fence was removed in 1855 and set in front of the Hunt family mansion on Main Street opposite the town hall, where it appears in photographs until the 1890s---seeming to grow shorter with successive road repavings.]
Jonathan Townsend was born in Hebron, Connecticut on May 12, 1762, the son of David and Elizabeth Fowler. He married Martha Dutton January 18, 1787. After living in Shelburne, Massachusetts, as a successful merchant, Jonathan bought some land between the Connecticut River and the main street in Brattleboro---north and west of a white pine stump just above Elnathan Allen's mills on the Whetstone---for £550, the deed bearing the date July 22, 1795.
The prospering merchant bought a farm and additional lands. Four of his children were born in Brattleboro, Betsey born February 21, 1798, Lucy Dutton, born April 25, 1800, Timothy Dutton born April 20, 1802, and Mary, born February 4, 1805. These children grew up in the brick mansion along Main Street that Jonathan built during 1808.
Jonathan Townsend's advertisement in the Brattleboro Reporter, dated November 24th, 1806 listed his goods arriving by Connecticut River flatboat for his new store in Wilmington--- Groceries, Molasses, Sugars, Brandy, Old Spirits, Salts of various kinds, in exchange for Clean Ashes and Salts of Lye.
Jonathan and Martha's son Timothy Dutton Townsend died at the age of ten, on June 12, 1812. A limestone slab marks his place in the Prospect Hill burying ground. Finally on August 17, 1814, Townsend mortgaged the brick house, barn, and outbuildings to Samuel Dickinson for $3,300. Jonathan died in Floyd, New York in 1825 and is buried in Whitesboro, New York.