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Visiting Shaw's 1895 General Store, Stowe, Vermont: The Shaws, Transforming a Ghost Town, Dreaming of the US Senate

Updated on April 8, 2019
State flag of Vermont
State flag of Vermont | Source
Main Street, Stowe, Vermont
Main Street, Stowe, Vermont | Source

Generations of Shaws serving in Downtown Stowe, Vermont

[This brief article concentrates upon a few historical aspects of the building known as Shaw's General Store on Main Street, Vermont; for any aspect of the services of this business, contact should be made directly with its management.]

At the heart of picturesque Downtown Stowe, in Vermont's Lamoille County, at Main Street, is Shaw's General Store. This dates from 1895.

Originally Shaw and Simmons General Store, the Shaw in question — H. E. Shaw (1867-1924) — soon bought out his partner C. A. Simmons in the business, which for well over a century has thus been known solely as Shaw's (1).

The early store sold hardware, groceries, farming equipment and many other general items, including fishing supplies: here, perhaps, is a clue to the striking buoyancy of the business, given that the attractiveness of fishing opportunities has long attracted visitors to the local area, and Shaw's proved more than ready to meet the emerging needs of visitors.

Remarkably, members of the same family since 1895 are still active in the business.

Howard E. Shaw, thus known as the veritable founder of the business, became somewhat of a local tycoon. in addition to the General Store, the ever entrepreneurial Howard E. Shaw also at one stage owned two factories and four mills. Further horizons loomed in the mind of H. E. Shaw: dreams of the U.S. Senate were awakened in him.

Then, tragedy struck: in 1924, Howard E. Shaw died of polio.

The business, however, continues and part of the secret of the success of Shaw's General Store came when Stowe — certainly sleepy and at times almost a ghost town — became popular as a ski resort in the 20th century. Gale Shaw, son of H. E. Shaw, seized the moment and vigorously pursued supplying the skiing industry from 1936; the basement to the General Store was dedicated to this end. Thus since the days of Gale Shaw — perhaps building on H. E. Shaw's pursuit of supplying the needs of visitors seeking fishing opportunities — Shaw's General Store proved ready to supply another emerging segment of visitors to the locality.

Thus the fortunes of Stowe and the fortunes of Shaw's General Store were inextricably bound up with one another: for so many visitors over many decades, Stowe, Vermont has meant skiing.

Shaw's General Shaw retains the clean, square lines of its historic appearance; however, the interior of the Store has been vastly changed; with air conditioning being installed within the past 10 years.

April 8, 2019


(1) See also:

Map of Vermont towns with Stowe highlighted
Map of Vermont towns with Stowe highlighted | Source

Also worth seeing

Picturesque Stowe attracts many visitors especially during the skiing season, given its proximity to the slopes of Mount Mansfield, at 4395 feet / 1340 metres, Vermont's highest peak; the Community Church, dating from 1863, has a prominent spire; the Neo-Colonial-style Town Hall dates from 1902.

In Montpelier, (distance: 22.7 miles / 36.5 kilometres) notable visitor attractions include: the golden domed State House, dating from 1859; the former studio of artist Thomas W. Wood. Christ Episcopal and Saint Augustine's Churches are significant examples of ecclesiastical architecture.

The Vermont Marble Museum, Proctor (distance: approx. 75.8 miles / 121.9 kilometres)

The Frost Place, Franconia, New Hampshire (distance: 73.9 miles / 118.9 kilometres) is a museum and poetry centre based in the former home of poet Robert Frost (1874-1963).


How to get there:

Burlington International Airport (distance to Stowe: 33.5 miles / 53.9 kilometres), where car rental is available from various companies, is served by a variety of airlines, including Porter, JetBlue, Delta and United, which fly to a number of North American connections. Stowe lies on Route 100, north of Junction 10 of the I-89. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Visitors to the United States are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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