WAVERLY- The Waverly General Store is aptly named. Despite the building having been home to a variety of businesses over its 182 years, it was built as just that, a general store.
A cornerstone of Waverly's historic district, the building stands the test of time on the corner of Abington Road and Clinton Street.
Photographs, maps and historical documents attest to the different functions the building served over the years.
When I was really small, the building was owned by the late Joe Carpenter, resident Abby Ridall recalled. Ridall was born in 1936, just a few doors up from the store.
Joe hired a friend by the name of Floyd Richards to run a grocery store there. Then it went on to become Stanton's General Store, a little candy store. We'd buy penny candy from Bruce and Annie Stanton. They sold ice cream and a few groceries like bread, eggs and milk. I can remember going up to Stanton's for vanilla Dixie Cups. We'd lift the lid and lick off the ice cream and there would be a picture of a movie star under there.
After the Stantons moved, the building was home to the architecture firm of von Storch, Evans, Scandale and Burkavage. In more recent years, it was a law office, then Family Tree Antiques and Zoya Interior Design.
But its days as a general store began long before 1936.
In the days when Abington Road was known as The Philadelphia and Great Bend Turnpike, Waverly was called Abington Center. The turnpike was the only route north from Philadelphia to the New York border, having previously been called Warrior's Path, an Indian trail. By the early 1800s, a settlement had started to form. Brought into The Beech Woods in search of land ownership and religious community, these pioneers felled forests, transforming woodlands into fields of grain.
In 1830, three of the most successful villagers joined together to build the town's very first store. Before that, people had to travel miles over unpaved roads on horseback or by wagon for supplies. With no grocery store, general merchandise store or pharmacy in town, Elder John Miller saw the need and gathered his friends. Miller was the Baptist Church founder and pastor, town school teacher, owner of a large and productive farm, postmaster and real estate mogul. Stephen Parker of Parker Hill and John Stone, an elected town officer, joined Miller in a partnership to finance the store. The store sold general dry goods and groceries. It was the first in Abington Center and was operated by the three men for many years.
Fast forward nearly 180 years and in 2004, the new version of the Waverly General Store opened for business. At that time, the store was half its present size. In 2005, co-owner Lisa Farrell renovated to increase the store size by removing a studio apartment on the main floor.
Everyone who had occupied the space had done something to it. There were drop ceilings and paneling. It had been made to accommodate living rather than a store setting, Farrell explained. We took everything back to the original walls and ceilings to return it to the original space. When we opened, so many people would come to share memories of what it had once been.
We chose to name it the Waverly General Store because it gave us the latitude to bring in anything we wanted. We wanted it to be a destination, a place people would come out to for something special, something you wouldn't normally find in this area.
The store sells handcrafted items, many by local artisans, along with gifts. Specialties include personalized stationary, fine linens, pewter, pottery, blown glass, silver jewelry, soaps, shoes, bags and children's toys.
We find that we serve the local community more than anything. People are happy to see us here and it's nice to be appreciated, Farrell said. We get to watch the local children grow up. We have kids who came in as babies and now they're getting off the school bus. It's a great location here on the corner.