“Ferns Country Store continues the tradition of there being a
store on this very site since 1844″
Since way back when, Carlisle has had different stores on different locations. But since the mid-1800’s there has been a store on the current Ferns site under many different proprietors. Here it’s the Carlisle Cash Store – presumably to discourage credit. This building stood until a major fire in 1925 which nearly took out the entire village center. Photo is from the Bedford Road side of the property as if you were standing in front of the rotary. Interestingly – when the new porch was being built in 2005, during the excavation, we came across large boulders which were most likely the original foundation of the old store.
Between 1844-1867 Artemis Parker, “kept store” in Parker’s Hall in the village center at our corner of Bedford and Lowell Roads which also included a tavern (before the successful temperance movement to make Carlisle a ‘dry’ town). Mr. Parker also served as Postmaster during those years.
Approximately 1870, the Parker store buildings were bought by A.D. Boynton. In Spring 1870, Sidney Bull bought the store and became Postmaster. Bull’s brother John joined him during the 70’s and the store became known as S.A. and J.E. Bull, or often called the Bull Brothers Store. (The photo to the left is of a paper shopping bag from a private collection.) Bull Brothers Store burned on Feb. 8, 1879. They moved their store to the Coombs house on the corner of School Street and Bedford Road until the store was rebuilt and again ready for business six months later in August 1879.
By 1885, Warren B. Chamberlin joined the Bulls, and the store was called Bull and Chamberlin. In September 1892, both Bull brothers sold their interest in the store to Warren Chamberlin and his brother Daniel Lang Chamberlin. The store then was called W.B. and D.L. Chamberlin. D.L. Chamberlin and family lived across the street in the Wheat Tavern.
In 1898, Warren B. Chamberlin sold his interest in the store to Lars Anderson; then the store was called Chamberlin and Anderson. The store had two floors including a public hall, a shed, an ice house, an ell and even an armory! The post office was still in the store and a pay telephone was added in 1895. Warren B. Chamberlin bought out Lars Anderson’s interest and the Chamberlin brothers ran the store until 1903.
In 1908, Daniel Lang Chamberlin bought out his brother’s interest in the store and continued operating it (confusing isn’t it!) After cars arrived in Carlisle, business dropped off and Chamberlin left the location in 1915 and opened a smaller store in the Coombs building.
In about 1926, he moved his store to his barn on Lowell Road, next to the Wheat Tavern (now Rollins Insurance and Barrett Real Estate across the street from Ferns Country Store). That store became the Red & White, which he continued to run (and serve as Postmaster) until he died in January 1940. The Red & White was later sold to Roy V. Cann.
Meanwhile, back at the Ferns location, James Houlton ran the store (called Carlisle Cash Store) there vacated by D.L. Chamberlin, until the store burned to the ground on May 27, 1925 (the fire threatened the entire center and damaged surrounding houses).
The Houltons left town and there was no building on the site until 1928, when Charles Dunton of Bedford built the present structure. He and his wife lived upstairs and ran a lunchroom and ice cream parlor downstairs, and operated the gas station. The photo at left is the Carlisle Superette, c 1980s
Mrs. Alma Fortunato & Mr. & Mrs. Bob Lockhart ran the Carlisle Superette until 1992 Mrs. Alice Daisy and her sons, Jonathan and Louis opened Daisy’s Market. For several years, prior to 1992, a full service bank was located on the Bedford Road end of the building where the Post Office used to be. Indeed, if you look outside on the corner of the building or inside The Smiling Duck Cafe you’ll still see the night deposit box!
On December 26, 2003, the business was acquired by Carlisle Center Ventures, LLC managed by residents Larry Bearfield and his wife Robin Emerson. On January 10, 2004 it reopened under the name Ferns Country Store. By 2006, Larry & Robin led a successful effort to undry the Town after being dry for 150 years. Over the next few years extensive improvements were made including the addition of a farmer’s porch, an outside, bricked piazza. During 2009 and 2010 a major construction project doubled the size of the store and made room for a new Wine & Beer Department.
Ferns Country Store in 2005
Carlisle Center Ventures, LLC acquired the store in December 2003 and made numerous improvements. The brightly and historically accurate painted exterior and extensive plantings have livened up the village center. The farmer’s porch and bricked piazza have become the local hotspot. And the stores extensive town involvement has most certainly contributed to the very fabric of the community.
A major construction project doubled the size of Ferns Country Store which provided much needed space for enlarged departments and the addition of the new Fine Wine & Beer Department as well as The Smiling Duck Cafe.
– – Alan Ashley-Pitt