The Raymond Block: 1858

ome of the first stores on Main Street were in this block of Main Street, but as a whole it took many decades to develop its modern configuration. The great American Hotel fire of 1857 was a major shaping force in this neighborhood, and its history is divided into pre-fire and post-fire stories.

The Raymond Block (105-109 Main Street) was built in the year after the fire by John T. Rugg, who acquired the burned-over ground under four stores, obtained a mortgage and with the money had this single building built with three store fronts. The whole width of the block is a couple of inches over 46 feet, and the stores are quite narrow, 105 being 16 feet wide, and 107 and 109 being each 14 feet 10 inches wide. The latter two were under joint ownership for much of the time, so the full width of the store was a more reasonable 29 feet 8 inches.

This was part of the Shearman property, the old Jonathan Bordwell homestead. In 1819 it was not Shearman however, but Abraham Wagener, who started the chain of title that led to Joseph Jones' purchase in 1824 from Scofield Seeley and Abraham H. Bennett. This plot was 66 feet wide, including what is now 111 Main Street, and the Raymond Block. No. 111 was never rebuilt as a separate building after the fire, and the land under it shows a clear chain of title down to the present, even though it has all that time been part of the larger Cornwell Opera House. As to the rest, the 43-foot-wide parcel now holding the Raymond Block wound up in the hands of Eben Smith.

Smith sold it in two parcels, 107 and 109 in 1836 to Israel F. Terrill and Anson C. Gillett, and 105 in 1848 to E. L. Jacobus. At least four stores were built on this ground eventually, and so it was in 1855 when John T. Rugg bought it. The 1855 and 1857 maps of the county show all four stores there, and presumably it was all four that burned in the big fire, which was stopped in this direction only by the brick firewalls of 103. Rugg built his new building in 1858, the year after the fire, and his widow Emily sold the block to Stephen Raymond in 1860.

Raymond's will left the property to his daughter Anna Raymond Agate, and at her death her brother Stephen J. Raymond came into it. His son and daughter, B. Frank Raymond and Emma Raymond Botsford inherited it, and the two kept 107-109 as a single store until 1911, when each sold to the other the rights to half the property, Emma keeping 107 and Frank 109.

No. 105 Main Street had been in separate ownership since Stephen J. Raymond's day, when he sold the store in 1890 to Theodore F. Denniston. Nos. 107 and 109 were under separate ownership only after 1908. In 1911 Emma Botsford sold 107 to Edward M. Scherer, in which family's ownership it stayed until after 1937. Her brother Frank Raymond sold 109 at the same time, so for the first time since 1860, there was no Raymond involved in the Raymond block.

Raymond Block

Above: The area in yellow shows the present-day Raymond Block, a single building erected in 1858 and nearly unchanged to this day, containing three narrow storefronts.

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David Wagener

Jonathan Bordwell
George Shearman

Use the button below to find out more about the larger plots this one was made from:

Jonathan Bordwell's homesteadThe George Shearman homesteadJoseph Jones plot

After the 1857 fire consumed the four stores on this ground, John T. Rugg built a new three-storefront building in the same place. Stephen Raymond, from whom the block takes its name, bought the building from Rugg's estate in 1860.

Use one of the buttons below to find out more about the individual lots and structures derived from this plot:

105 Main St.
107 Main St.
109 Main St.