Historic, revitalized general store to reopen this weekend

May 7, 2019

MARION — The Marion General Store’s building is rich in history. Even before the town was named Marion, when America was only 23 years old, the building stood proud, with generations of residents and visitors utilizing its services.

220 years later, on May 11, the store will reopen after three months of renovations to restore this piece of Marion history. The renovations were funded in part by the Sippican Historical Society. 

The building was built in 1799 and acted as a church for 41 years, serving as a place for Town Meetings and performances.

The building eventually became the Marion General Store and was owned over the years by Stephen Delano, Andrew Hadley, Peter Hadley, William R. Luce,  Fred Cobb, Charles Hathaway, and Alonzo Hathaway. Jack Cheney, the current owner, took over the store in 1974.

 Cheney thought about renovating them for a while building and said he is thrilled to see his vision come into fruition.

“I’m really excited,” said Cheney, “I think it’s just great for my family, my store and for my community. That was the right thing to do — to restore the place.”

Cheney’s daughter, Whitney Cheney-Wynne said the community worked on raising funds for the renovation starting in September.

Treasurer of the Sippican Historical Society, Judith Rosbe, said the building had rotting sills and floors before the renovation.

The Sippican Historical Society feared the building would be torn down and approached Cheney about restoring it. 

This proved a success. Of particular note in the fundraising are four citizens who donated $200,000 to the Historical Society’s fundraiser for the renovation.

Other funds from the Historical Society came from preservation money that was left by a Marion resident who passed away.

On top of the money raised from the Historical Society, the rest of the renovation money was funded by the Cheney family and private donations from the community.

In renovating the store, Cheney and the historical society worked to maintain the historical and familiar appearance residents came to love.

Some of the furniture from the old general store is still in the store, including a farm table dating back to 1810 and a staircase that is at least 100 years old.

“A lot of people were worried that we could lose the charm and the things that they loved all these years,” said Cheney-Wynne, “So we tried to keep what we could keep and repurpose things.”

Even though it maintains some of its classic appearances, Cheney-Wynne said they have added new features and upgrades.

Visitors can sit and enjoy food and refreshments at Betty’s Corner inside the store, named after Cheney’s wife who passed away a few years ago. 

Wifi will be available in the general store. The building is wheelchair accessible, and Cheney will now accept credit and debit cards.

A new foundation was added, including structural upgrades, a new fire system, an electrical system, and a generator.

Rosbe, who has lived in Marion while Cheney has owned the store, said the store has more than just historical significance to the town.

“It’s just so important not only in Marion history but also to the downtown in Marion,” said Rosbe, “If it were to become a condominium, then there wouldn’t be the retail trade that Kate’s [Simple Eats] and the post office has, and would really change the character of our downtown.”

The grand re-opening of the general store will take place at a ribbon cutting ceremony May 11 at 8 a.m. 

There will be a celebration of the restoration of the general store, called Keeping History Alive, in the parking lot between Kate’s Simple Eats and Marion General Store on June 9 from 12 to 3 p.m.

There will be a DJ, food trucks, kids’ activities, wine and spirits served by Kate’s, and the general store will, of course, be open.

The store hours are Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.