We in Hooksett are fortunate to have such a place in our community. Since 1822 a general merchandise market has operated at the present site of Robie’s Country Store on Riverside Street. What stories the property could tell. Just consider what it has experienced. In its early years, the store was part of a thriving social and business community in the village area. Guests of a nearby inn probably sampled its wares. It heard horse-drawn carriages rumbling through the adjacent wooden covered bridge. It saw the building of our town hall and our first library. It was witness to river traffic, the Isle of Hooksett canal system, and the advent of the railroad that carried passengers and freight to and from the Hooksett Village Depot just across the road. From 1887-1997 it was run by a member of the Robie family. Four generations, 110 years – quite a legacy!
That was its past. Now it’s up to us to secure its future. In 2003 we reached our first goal — the store reopened! We were successful in leasing the building to operators who will continue the country store tradition while abiding by lease terms and conditions imposed to protect the structure and character of the store. Some may feel that because the store is now operating, our work is done; that is not the case. We must continue the preservation effort in order to further invest in stabilization of the building and care of the collection of historic objects. Plans are in development to prepare the attic for display/museum space. And we must invest in our endowment fund to provide income for the continued support of the organization and to ensure the future use, condition, and security of the building and collection.
While we can see a few markers around town locating sites where Hooksett’s history was but is no longer, so much of our “roots,” our heritage, the things that made our town what it is today, are gone forever. In some cases, the markers stand as reminders of missed opportunities. This is our chance to be sure that the store and its place in our town’s history are preserved.
Years from now, we can be proud that when this local treasure was in our care, we made the right decision. We chose to save our past to enrich our future. Won’t you please join us and be a part of this extraordinary effort? Your fully tax-deductible contribution will help us preserve this building – yes – but more important, it will allow us all to keep what Robie’s Country Store has given our town for 110 years – a sense of place, time, and community.