original store that the Rockwells had constructed in Colebrook Center is
the building that we know today as the Woodbine Cottage that stands directly
behind the Colebrook Store on Connecticut Route 182-A. According to the
original store ledger, now in the possession of John O. Newell, it was built
and opened for business in 1803.
The need for a larger store to serve the
growing population resulted with Martin and Solomon Rockwell having master
builder William Swift construct another building directly in front of the
original one room, one story high store in 1812. The Colebrook tax lists for
the year 1812 list only one store in town, which was the one just mentioned.
The following year the tax lists record two stores, referred to as “the
front store and the rear store”, belonging to the Rockwell brothers.
Martin and Solomon sold the store on April 25 for $775.00 to Jonathan
Edwards Hoyt (a member of the Rockwell family). Both stores seem to have
been operated by Thomas H. Marshall for the Rockwells. That same year Hoyt
sold ½ interest in the two stores and the land they stood on to Giles H.
Bass (another Rockwell family member) for $387.50.
Hoyt sold the remaining half of the two stores to Bass for $500.00.
Giles Bass dies. The property goes to his wife Louisa, who kept it until her
death in 1886. Louisa was the sister of Reuben Rockwell, to whom she left
the two stores.
Reuben Rockwell dies. In his will he left the front store to Gertrude Smith,
wife of Chester L. Smith, with the back store, so called, remaining with the
property at 561 Colebrook Road. The situation remains the same to this day.
The property lines at that time were established 4 feet out from the north
and west walls of the building. This is the cause of the problem that arose
later when the ten-foot wide addition was constructed which served as the
Colebrook Post Office from 1943-1995. Years later the Rockwell descendants
who owned 561 Colebrook Road granted the encroached-upon land to the store.
Gertrude Smith sold to a partnership of seven persons headed by Hiram D.
Northrup. All were Colebrook residents and consisted of Northrup, Luther
Sparks, Horace North, Julia Phelps, Edward B. Hawksley, Joseph E. Turner and
his son, Ralph H. Turner. The firm name was J. E. Turner and Son. Their land
title refers to the property as “formerly known as the Rockwell Store”. The
partnership did not last long, however, as Northrup bought out his partners
D. Northrup sold ½ interest in the store to his clerk, Clarence F. Stotts,
for $1.00. There was one restriction placed upon the title deed. It reads:
“This conveyance is made with this restriction and condition: that for 12
years from the date hereof [Dec. 6, 1923] no person by name of Cooper shall
own any interest in the premises, nor occupy any part, nor be employed in
the premises for any purpose or under any pretext whatever.” This reflects a
feud that persisted for years between the two stores in the Center. Cooper’s
store was located in what today is 474 Smith Hill Road.
Ellen Northrup, widow of Hiram, sold the remaining half of the store to
Stotts for “a valuable sum of money”.
Clarence F. Stotts sold ½ interest in the store to his wife Mary.
Clarence Stotts dies. His wife Mary sold the store to Keith and Alma Jackson
on December 24.
and Alma Jackson sold the store to George and Mary Gray on November 18.
(This was also the year the Colebrook Center Historic District was created).
and Mary Gray sold the store to Meuriell S. Roberts on April 27.
Roberts sold to Fred and Phyllis Williams on Dec. 22. The name “Colebrook
Store” was legally applied as a State requirement.
and Phyllis Williams sold to Elsie J. Ignace on April 26.
Ignace sold to Frederick Weston, Jr. and his wife Anita on Nov. 15.
Westons sold to Karolyn H. Thuran on July 9.
sold to Fred J. and Josephine A. Zebrowski on May 30. There was a $40,000
mortgage at this time, which indicates the approximate value of the store.
and Josephine Zebrowski sold to Robert A. Fumire on April 30.
Fumire sold the store to Richard Blitz on March 5.
places the store up for sale. Storekeeper and manager at the time was John
Raymond and Joyce Winn, Jeffery Marshall and Timothy and Julia King
purchased the store from Richard Blitz.
store was placed on the market.
Colebrook Store was purchased by Lora C. Murphy in April. The sale price was
in the $270,000 range.
2007 At the
beginning of July, Lora Murphy, who has had the store on the market for
several months, closes, and places signs reading “Closed for Vacation”. She
had no apparent intent to reopen, as one of the display cases had been sold,
the interior was dirty and in disrepair, the few remaining newspapers (dated
July 6th) were on the
counter. There were very few items of any category left on the shelves. A
week or so before Murphy had written a caustic article in the Winsted
Journal blaming the town and in particular the town government for not
supporting her store. She implied that the town should supply some form of
financial support to help keep the operation in business.
Until this time, The Colebrook Store had been
the oldest continuously operated general store in the State of Connecticut,
encompassing a span stretching from 1812 until 2007, 195 years.
- Bob Grigg
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