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Store History

HW Breen’s General Merchandise Store was first built in 1835 in Cornwall Bridge by William H Breen near the east end of the old Covered Bridge. In 1931, his descendent Harry Breen had the good sense to rebuild his store up on the new highway where the steel bridge was being constructed. The store was ran by the Breen Family until 1940 when it was sold to Spencer Monroe and Howard O’dell JR and was ran as Monroe and O’dell’s General Store until Monroe bought out O’dell and ran the store as Monroe’s General Store for the next 30 years.

In 1972 Monroe sold the store to Ed Baird who continued to run the store as “Baird’s General Store”, Ed’s sons K.C. and Tom took over the store from their father and continued to operate until 2010 when the building was leased to Dana and Louise Beecher who renamed it the Cornwall General Store. In 2013, current owners James and Idella Shepard were looking for an ideal location to realize their dream of operating a country market and deli. James’ stepfather Otto Kaletsch, a 50+ year resident of Sharon with close ties to Cornwall, took the pragmatic approach. He felt that for an independent market to prosper, they could not deal with the multitude of problems that had plagued the Bairds and Beechers. The well water was running extremely low, the electrical system was shot and the furnace was a museum peace. No operator could afford to close the doors long enough to repair the long list of problems that had accrued over generations. The only solution would be a complete renovation prior to reopening. Kaletsch invited the Shepard’s for dinner one night and presented his “crazy idea”. He would purchase and renovate the building, and the Shepards would invest their savings to re-imagine the interior for the next generation.

In June of 2013 the town came out one last time to say good bye to the old building and give the Beechers a rousing send off. Construction started the following week with extensive demolition. What was originally expected to be a 3-4 week renovation turned into a massive 5 month affair. The entire store was brought down to studs and rebuilt with a more open floor plan, new shelving, 2 new ADA compliant restrooms, and a brand new porch with a handicapped ramp to improve accessibility for all patrons. Reopening on November 1st , 2013, the new Cornwall Country Market has become the place to meet old friends and make new ones. To enjoy an early breakfast, a delicious lunch or take home all the necessities for dinner.

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