CHILTONVILLE — The Bramhall family will celebrate 190 years of operating from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 20 at 2 Sandwich Road.
All are invited to enjoy a beer garden, cake, a kids concert and face painting.
Over the past few years, the current owner, Ben Bramhall, and his family started taking inventory of the store’s attic and found the original deed and ledger. In October of 1828, his great-great-great-great-grandfather, George, bought a piece of land in Eel River near the Meeting House for $25 from Nathaniel Carver. Most of what has been found so far is 19th-century: agricultural tools, leather shoes and cobblers’ benches from Bramhall & Reamy, coffee tins and cigar cutters from the original general store, tailoring account books, postal guides and hand stamps, plate glass negatives and boxes of ledgers. It continued as a general store into the 20th century, served some decades as a carpentry barn, and then became a general store again in 1980.
“Plymouth largely remained a fishing, shipping and agricultural community for two centuries after our Pilgrim ancestors arrived,” says Bramhall. “The store is essentially the story of what happened as the industrial revolution finally followed them to America. Now that we’re oriented, our goal is to start organizing, preserving and parsing it all. This past winter, we started scanning the old negatives and hope to uncover more history as we read through the decades of ledgers that have been stored away.”
The modern history starts with Wedge Bramhall and his mother, Ginny, reopening the general store in 1980 with an ice cream scoop shop, farm stand and live lobster tank. The neighborhood kids would walk and bike down with quarters to pick out all their favorite penny candies. Bramhall’s sister, Sally, remembers working behind the counter.
“Kids would bring up their bags for us to count, only to realize that they had to put back the pixie sticks or had enough left to add a teenie drink,” she said.
When Wedge passed in 2014, the family kept hearing words like “authentic” and “Plymouthean” to describe him. He could have bought frozen lobster for the lobster rolls, but building a lobster tank allowed him to source fresh from local lobstermen instead. Bramhall and his family decided to continue developing relationships with local producers. Visiting local farms daily to personally pick up fresh veggies for the farmstand makes it easier to also use them in their kitchen for grilled cheese, salads and other take-out items. They even get maize sourced by the Plimoth Grist Mill to make tortillas for their tacos.
“We’re most excited about the history and community,” Bramhall said. “In addition to sourcing locally, we’re working to make the building more inviting for dinners, acoustic music and other gatherings. Our dad envisioned it being a meeting place just as it probably was in 1828 and we’re hoping to continue and improve upon that legacy. We hope you’ll join us on October 20th to kick off our 20th decade.”
Admission is free. Bramhall’s is known for lobster rolls, local corn, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The outdoor live-lobster tank has been a hit with the kids for generations. They’re open everyday from 11a.m. to 6 p.m. through the fall. More information can be found at http://BramhallsCountryStore.com or on social media.