BETHEL MAINE HISTORY—CEYLON ROWE—BETHEL TRADER

Ceylon and Mary Rowe’s house  at 31 Park Street in 1885. Ceylon holds the reins as the couple set out on a drive.  This is the house converted to condos during 2008 and 2009.

Ceylon Rowe’s house circa 1885 if my filing is correct. The house and barn were being converted to four condos in 2008.

Herbert C, known as “Bert”, increasingly took over storekeeping from his father as Ceylon could no longer keep up with business.  And later when son Herbert was ready to retire, Ceylon's grandson, Herbert R. took over. At the time of Herbert C.'s death in 1939, the Bethel Citizen noted that with the third generation running the business, it was the oldest family business in Bethel.  When the store closed in 1940, the Ceylon Rowe Store had been open 62 years - only Brooks Hardware/Brooks Bros, in business for 94 years, 1917 to 2012, has a longer track record. The Rowe store space at the north end of the Kimball Block became Bethel's public use Community Room.

Rosalind Rowe “Rollie” Chapman, Herbert C. and Alice Rowe’s daughter, said that during the later 1930’s store business declined – the depression was on but shopping had changed and the automobile helped change it.  During the store’s strongest era, families shopped daily and walked to their nearest general store.  Fresh food had to be purchased daily and the Rowe store’s basement served as a cool food storage area. 

Margery Rowe Swan, Herbert R. and Edith Enman Rowe’s daughter, was raised in the Rowe home she had this story to tell. When Margery was a child, they shared the house with her father's parents, Herbert C. and Alice Russell Rowe. Her grandfather died in 1939 and her grandmother in 1948. During the 1943 - 45 war years, Margery's family moved to Gardner, Maine and her father worked at Bath Iron Works. When the war ended they moved back to the Rowe home on Park Street. Margery returned to school entering Bethel Grammar School in the sixth grade.

When they returned to Bethel, Margery's family shared the house with Rosalind and Franklin Chapman family which included their daughter – Carolyn and later on, son Jack. In 1948 after Alice Rowe died, the house was divided into two apartments.  Margery graduated from Gould Academy in 1952.  Her father, called “Herbie”, started work at Brooks Hardware and continued there until he retired. At Brooks Bros, as a joke, Herbie Rowe soldered a penny to a nail and drove the nail into the floor near the cash register. Many laughs as customers tried to pick up the penny.

In 1958 Franklin and Rosalind Chapman moved out of the house to their new home and during the summer NTL participants rented the vacant apartment.  In 1978, Herbert R. (Herbie) and Edith moved to an apartment in Sudbury Village. The Rowe house in the Park was sold to Elgin Tibbetts and Hope Tibbetts. They adapted the rooms to serve as a boarding home for the elderly.  The house had been a Rowe family home from 1864 to 1977.

In the summer of 2008, 31 Park Street in Kimball Park was being converted to a four condo property inside a 19th Century shell. Like many of the other old homes in Bethel village, it has much more story to tell than just being another old house. The current owner is Duncan MacDougal Properties of Portland.

 

On February 29, 1940 the Citizen included a full page notice that read:

 

Going Out Of Business!

Entire stock and fixtures of C. ROWE & SON of Bethel, Maine, will be sold to the Public, starting March 1st, and to continue for 30 days so as to enable us to clean out everything to the bare walls.

 

List of stock offered for sale included such items as Men’s All Wool Mackinaws, sale price $6.98; Shoe Skates, sale price $1.98; Ladies Rubber Overshoes, sale price $.98 pair; Ladies Silk and Wool Union Suits, sale price $.69; Special Lot of Men’s High Cut Boots, $4.98-$5.98 a pair.

 

There are hundreds of items too numerous to list for you to choose from.

 

 

Thanks to Rosalind Rowe Chapman and Margery Rowe Swan who provided family information for this article. Other sources were the Bethel Historical Society collections of newspapers and photographs.

Bethel Journals Page 2