The Park House with its attached Livery House on Main Street was one of two hotels, along with the Hartland House, serving guests, weary stage coach travelers and numerous traveling salesmen during the town’s early history from about 1827 until 1914.
Original Park House before Renovations – c1860
Early ownership remains unknown but by 1860 Harry Merrow was operating it before he sold to Roger L. Williams by 1870.
1860 Village Map
By 1883, extensive renovations to expand The Park House, now owned by Roger L. Williams, had been made.
1883 Village Map
Following the renovations, The Park House’s distinctive corner windows and its inviting porch became a trademark of the popular inn.
Park House following Renovations
With the new Sebasticook & Moosehead Railroad opening in 1886, The Park House was a well known destination for travelers.
The Park House
The Livery Stable business was usually operated independently according to details found in the Maine State Yearbooks Annual Report.
The Park House seen from the intersection of Pittsfield Avenue
The Park House also provided employment opportunities for locals including maids, cooks, clerks and livery stable workers.
The Park House
The Park House often provided long term lodging for many people who came to Hartland to work before they found permanent housing. One lodger was Ralph C. Hamilton who stayed at The Park House when he first came to Hartland soon after 1900 to work at A. W. Miller Drugstore.
Panoramic View including The Park House looking down Main Street – c1900
With electricity and telephone service in Hartland by the turn of the century, The Park House offered many new modern amenities
The Park House – 1908 – Proprietor E. A. Bailey
Ironically, one of the long term downfalls of a local railroad was traveling salesmen could now make day trips to Hartland and not need lodging.
The Park House
The serenity of The Park House exploded into deadly violence on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon in September of 1914.
The Park House – 1914 – Proprietor LaForest D. Mathews
The Murder of LaForest D. Mathews at The Park House
by Brenda Seekins
~ Click the file below for the complete story ~
Soon after the tragic events of 1914, Harry E. Randlett purchased the Park House and soon began operating it as the Hartland Hardware Store until his retirement in 1959. Most of the upstairs continued to be rented out as as individual rooms or apartments for several decades.
The Park House
By 1920, Harry remodeled the facade of the building with a large addition extending the building forward to Main Street. The distinct windows seen to the left, which were originally on the corner of the building, were turned and “flattened” to the Mill Street side. The tree locations in the front, when compared to earlier photos, give a good idea of the depth of the new addition.
Hartland Hardware Store following Renovations
In early 1925, Harry installed Gulf gas pumps at his store and by the end of the year had built a protective canopy for his gas customers. Further research is being done to discover how long the gas pumps existed but several folks who later attended school at the building recall they were gone by the late 1940s.
Hartland Hardware Store with Gas Pump Canopy – Unknown year
Beginning with the Fall Term of 1943, two of the upstairs rooms were rented to the Hartland School Department for 4th & 5th grade classes due to over crowding at the Pleasant Street School and the sub-sequential closing of Fullers Corner School in West Hartland that same Fall. Those grade students attended classes here until the new Hartland Consolidated School on Elm Street opened in 1950. Entrance to the school rooms was from the Mill Street side of the building.
Hartland Hardware Store from Mill Street – c1955 (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Plummer Vigue)
Harry Randlett also served for 40 years as Manager of the Hartland Water Company.
Hartland Hardware Store from Main Street – c1955 (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Plummer Vigue)
Hartland Hardware Store looking down Main Street
“In 1959, John Plummer purchased the building from Harry Randlett in partnership with his friend and fellow World War II Veteran, Harold Gertsen, who resided in New Jersey. Plummer and his family lived in Dover-Foxcroft at the time and he commuted daily to Hartland to run the store. In the 1960s and into early ’80s, the Hartland Emporium sold hardware, sporting and recreation goods and items for the home. In 1965, when Plummer’s daughters went to college, he and his wife Florence moved into the former Park House and lived in a large apartment over the store.” (Special thanks to Cheryl Plummer Vigue for this information)
John Plummer with Florence and their daughter Cheryl (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Plummer Vigue)
The large front glass bay windows held rotating displays of store goods. Particularly popular, especially among the children, was the annual Christmas display of “Santa’s Workshop” complete with mechanical elves that seemed to saw and hammer away at their workbenches.
Hartland Emporium – 1970 (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Plummer Vigue)
With its distinctive exterior red coat of paint, white trim and “Dutch Boy Paints” sign, the Hartland Emporium stood out in Hartland’s landscape.
Hartland Emporium – 1970 (Photo courtesy of Phil Russell)
To say John Plummer was a lovable and unique character would be an understatement in the eyes of those who knew him affectionately as “Johnny”. John served his adopted home of Hartland with many years of involvement in town affairs and at Scott-Webb Memorial Hospital.
John Plummer as “Uncle Sam” for the 1970 Sesquicentennial Celebration
In 1976, John Plummer opened “The Coffee Shoppe” in the center section of the building which became a popular gathering spot for many locals. He sold/rented the restaurant business to Harry & Hope Graff who renamed it “The Park House Restaurant”. Harry Finnemore, Jr and his wife, Donnice eventually took over the restaurant business. John and his business partner sold the building and businesses in 1984.
The Park House Restaurant – 1984
The building and lot were purchased by Rocky & Vicki (Getchell) Rice. Vicki operated a fitness business in the former hardware store section for a while but by then the building was unfortunately getting beyond any reasonable or affordable repairs. Following a fire at their Warren Square store location, the entire Park House block was soon razed to make way for the Rice’s new “Moose Lake Market” in 1994.
Moose Lake Market – 2012 (Photo courtesy of Laurel (Knowles) White)