"We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us."
~ Winston Churchill
Julie & Rick Whelchel
Head Honcho & Chief Libation Officer
J.Decor began as a dream to showcase the historic 1873 H.O. Moses Apothecary “On The Hill” in Bridgton, Maine. Today, this spectacular, space is the backdrop for our amazing collection featuring finely handcrafted furniture & home furnishings that pay homage to the exquisite craftsmanship of that era. Combining our years of home design experience, our love of historic spaces & our appreciation of great wine & craft beer, we’ve assembled a collection like no other. One step inside our spectacular shop and you’ll understand why Maine Preservation said it’s the only remaining space of its kind in the State of Maine.
Cheers ~ Julie & Rick
31 Main Street - A Fascinating History
1821 – BRIDGTON’S FIRST APOTHECARY
Bridgton, Maine 1768-1994, BHS
In 1821 Henry O. Moses purchased a lot on Main Hill, erected a building and opened a well-appointed drugstore, doing business here until it burned December 29, 1871. This store “MOSES APOTHECARY and BOOKSELLER, and dealer in Stationary, Fancy & Toilet Articles, Trusses and Supporters, etc.” was the favorite lounging place for the “big brass” of the business and professional world of Bridgton. Many stories could be told by the back office.
1871 – CHRISTMAS EVE FIRE
We regret to be obliged to record this week the details of a destructive fire which took place Sunday last, in this village, completely destroying the Apothecary and Drug Store owned and occupied by Mr. Henry O. Moses, together with the fixtures in the building and a very valuable stock of drugs and medicines, books, fancy goods, etc. together with the valuable library of Dr. Thos. P. Perley, the total value of which is estimated from ten to eleven thousand dollars.
As near as we are able to judge from the conflicting reports in circulation the fire seems to have been discovered at about two o’clock Sunday morning, by Mrs. Burnell, who at once gave the alarm, which was quickly followed by the ringing of the bells, screeching of steam whistles, etc. which served to call together a very large crowd of villagers in a comparatively short space of time. Those first on the ground report that at that time there was no fire in the portion of the building occupied by Mr Moses, though the store was full of smoke, and the flames were just breaking through from above. Our citizens went to work at once upon their arrival with much vigor, but, despite every effort, and in the absence of any organized fire department or working apparatus, the flames had soon completely enveloped the entire building, leaving but little opportunity even to remove the most valuable articles of the stock, though every possible effort in this direction was made. The flames were soon communicated to the adjoining dwelling house owned by the Walker heirs and occupied by William C. Smith, which was soon consumed, though, most of the contents of the house were saved.
The most vigorous efforts were now put forth to prevent the further spread of the fire, as the buildings on the east and west of the burning buildings seemed to be in imminent danger. A large water-pail brigade was in attendance, and all worked with a will and did yeoman service in battling the fire. Blankets were spread upon the exposed portion of the adjoining buildings, and while detachments were busy in keeping moist with water the roofs of those buildings others employed themselves in removing the furniture and household goods from the residences of W .H. Jewett, H. A. Shorey, W. C. Smith, L.B. Moody, and the goods from the store of A. J. Noone, which course seemed to be essential for their safety. The buildings adjoining were saves, thanks to the vigorous efforts of our citizens. Happily for this village and all the inhabitants, thereof, the fire had exhausted its force previous to the springing up of the gale from the West; had it been otherwise the result is most fearful to contemplate, as no earthly power could have prevented the complete destruction of that portion of our village lying between Moody’s buildings and Fogg & Billings Tannery on the south side of Maine street. When this gale commenced the burning buildings had fallen in, and, the water-pail brigade being largely reinforced and materially aided by the force-pump at Cumberland Mills, renewed efforts to extinguish the flames were successful, though at daylight nothing remained of the two buildings but a mass of blackened cinders and smouldering ruins.
There are various conjectures as to the cause of the fire, though nothing definite seems to be knowns. It seems to have originated in the upper story of the building, a portion fo which was used by Dr. Perley as an office, and tho remaining rooms being unoccupied except so far as they were used for storage by Mr Moses. We are assured on good authority that the fire was first send emanating from the window of one of the unoccupied rooms in the upper portion of the building. No fire had been used by Dr Perley for some time, and his ashes are so well cared for that it is not possible that it could have communicated from his ash pile. Doubtless a defect in the chimney was the cause of the fire.
The loss hits heavily on Mr Moses, who was only insured for about $4,500 on his stock, building and fixtures, while his loss is not far from ten thousand dollars. He had a very large stock of valuable drugs, which he had purchased for purposes of speculation. Dr. Perley’s loss is about a thousand dollars upon which there was no insurance. He loses a valuable library of scientific works together with all his office fixtures, surgical instruments and a rare collection of geological and natural history specimens. We believe there was no insurance on the house owned by the Walker heirs which was destroyed. The furniture and household goods of Messrs. Jewett, Shorey, Moody and Smith are more or less injured, though not worthy of mention as compared with the losses about enumerated.
Our community deeply sympathize with Mr Moses and Dr Perley in the loss which they have sustained. Mr Moses, we are pleased to learn, will continue business here, having already leased the store lately occupied by A. J Noone, opposite the Bridgton House, for that purpose.
1872 – THE MOSES FIRE AND ITS LESSONS
We hope that the calamity which has recently been wielded upon our village will not be allowed to pass from the minds of our people without fully impressing them with the hopeless condition of our homes and our places of business, whenever an accident may chance to result in setting a building fire, especially when a high wind prevails. But for the fact that the weather was remarkably favorable when the old brick house was destroyed, the people of Bridgt’n would have been to-day, without a Town House (town hall); and happily owing to a similar fortunate state of things on the Sunday morning when Mr. Moses was deprived of nearly all of the property which by his energies he had accumulated, the business portion of our village would now be in ashes, and many of our people who are now in affluence, would have beeb homeless and penniless. And yet, in the latter instance, not in the former, an ordinary hand fire engine would have been sufficient to save the burning building, and filly protect those contiguous thereto. Indeed, we verily believe that had there been ready for use a large-sized Fire Extinguisher at the time Mr. Moses shop was entered by those first on the ground, the library of Dr. Perley, together with the stock in the store below, and the building in a slightly damaged state, might have easily been saved!
In the light of such facts it seems almost unnecessary to urge upon the people of this enterprising village the importance of making some provision for the protection of their property in cases of emergency, as all must realize that their neglect in the matter is not only unworthy of them but really criminal --- A man has no right to place his property in such a hazardous position, as he has certain responsibilities to those dependent upon him and the community at large. The fact therefore, that an old engine house which even has come to be recognized as “nobody’s property,” constitutes the nearest approach to a fire department which Bridgton Center has, is, to say the least, exceedingly discreditable to our property holders and to our entire population. We are well satisfies that our defenceless condition is fully appreciated by all, while the flames are doing their work of destruction, and at such times a very general demand for some organized fire department is made. So when the storm rages the man who has failed in pleasant weather to furnish his house with doors and windows on the supposition that when the sun shines he has no need of them, realizes his stupidity when for the particular storm which is the occasion of his discomfort it is too late to provide. While a house is burning to the ground and a high wind is scattering the burning ashes in all directions, is an unsuitable season to talk of what we need in the shape of a fire department, and we wish that our people are becoming more and more inclined to appreciate this fact.
We have no suggestions to make as to the particular action which should be taken in the premises, but we do earnestly urge upon those whose business it is to take the initiative in public enterprises the importance of long expenditure without delay. We cannot afford longer to neglect this matter, and now, while the people are looking upon the subject, is the most suitable time for action.
Who will take the initiative in this matter himself to be regarded as a public benefactor?
1873 – THE PHOENIX
The outside of Mr. Moses’ new drug store in this village is about completed, and the workmen are now engaged in putting on the inside finish. The building has a street front of 27 feet, is 45 feet long, and 27 feet post, and occupies a lot 87 X 68 feet, purchased of the Walker heirs. It was designed by Charles H. Howe, Esq., the architect of the Fluent Block, Portland, and when completed will be one of the most convenient and elegant drug stores in the State. The main store is to be tastily finished in maple and brown ash, with elaborate and beautiful black walnut trimmings, and nicely arranged for the various departments of drugs, medicines, books and stationary, fancy goods, etc., including tall mirrors, attractive showcases, and all the characteristics of a first-class establishment of this kind. Messrs. Isaac Chase and Jesse Murphy have charge of the work, who, with their assistants, will find constant work until about next May, when it is expected the structure will be completed. The front is adorned with a neat piazza, and the whole outside is to be painted after the style of the Methodist Church.
FINEST OIL FRESCOS
Bridgton News, May 23rd
“The superb oil frescoing of H.0.Moses’ drug store on Main Street by Messrs. Keilor, Mills, Carr and Naylor from the establishment of Jost & Keilor, Portland is completed; and the store is now emphatically “a thing of beauty”. The marble counters and mirrors are soon to be put in place, and the store will be ready for occupancy next month.”
MR. MOSES NEW DRUG STORE
Bridgton News, October 31
Among the new buildings which have lately arisen, to grade by their beauty of architectural design and finish, in our growing village, the elegant new drugstore of Henry O. Moses deserves more than a passing notice. Like several other handsome structures lately erected in this village this edifice is a “child of the fire”; its predecessor having been burned in December 1871. Its proprietor, who we believe is a native of Durham, Maine, learned the apothecary business of Dr. Edward Mason of Portland, which who he remained for four years, then spent three years with H.H. Hay of _____ having charge of the retail department; he came to Bridgton and commenced the erection of a drug store on land purchased of the Walker heirs, in August 1868, which was completed and occupied in the following December. After its destruction by fire, Mr. Moses occupied temporary quarters in the Adams Building, opposite the Bridgton House, until September in 1873, when he moved into his present store on the site of the first one.
This store, the master builders of which were Jesse Murphy and Isaac Chase, is 45 X 27 feet, 27 feet post, 2 ½ stories, with basement, is painted drab with darker trimmings; and with the French balcony, platform and glass front, make an attractive appearance, which however is exceeded by the beauty and exquisite finish of its interior. The main store is 35 X 20 feet, and 11 (14?) feet post; is finished in brown ash with black walnut trimmings; the drawers of birds eye maple, the walls surrounded with elaborate scroll-work of black walnut, also two pediments of brown ash and black walnut; French mirrors on one side and at the rear nearly the height of the room; a long counter on either side, finished in the same style as the store, with marble top, supporting costly silver-framed showcases, and a third similar one, but of semi-circular or semi-octagonal form at the further end, on which stands dispensing scales, of nice accuracy from the celebrated manufactory of Henry Troemner, Philadelphia. The ceiling is beautifully frescoed in oil by W.L. Keilor, Portland and is pronounced by many to be as fine a specimen of frescoing as can be found in any store in the State.
On the left of the store, as we enter and occupy half the length of the room, is the department of books and stationary goods. Opposite on the right are fancy goods, patent medicines, and toilet articles. The rear half of the store is devoted to dispensing family medicines, together with some prescription goods, and confectionary. So, admirably arranged is this department that the proprietor, standing behind his scales, has to walk but twelve feet to reach his farthest drawer or vial. At the right of the store is a Truss Room. At the rear through a glass partition is seen the Prescription Room, frescoed and finished in the same manner as the main store; a scroll-adorned pediment surrounding a tall chemical case with mirror doors. This room is dedicated to preparing prescriptions and to light manufacturing, and equipped with convenient sinks, tanks and ____; and Troemner nickel prescription scales in rosewood case. Under the entire building is a ______ cellar or basement, for unpacking and storing goods, containing a furnace and laboratory. The upper stories are as yet unfinished.
This store as regards beauty and unity of design, its elegant finish, convenience and adaptability to the purpose for which it was constructed, together with its extensive stock of tastily arranged goods, is unsurpassed by any of its kind in the city, and whether visited by day, or seen at night in the light of its bronzed chandeliers excites general admiration. It is Mr. Moses aim to make his establishment first-class in every respect and the evidence of his large and increasing trade in this and the adjoining towns is gratifying proof that his enterprise and energy are appreciated by the community.
BRIDGTON’S FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY
Bridgton, Maine 1768-1994, BHS
Officially the Bridgton Public Library was born July 2, 1895 at the drugstore on Main Hill owned by Dr. Frank E. Stevens, the Library’s first chairman. Dr. Stevens housed the 432 volumes in the prescription room in the back of his store (H.O. Moses building, now J.Decor). By 1898, the collection had outgrown the space, but eventually found a new home in the current building, which was dedicated in the summer of 1913.
31 Main Street, Bridgton, Maine 04009