Step Into Country Charm

  • Visit North Central

Looking for a quiet, quintessential New England town, still untouched by such “modern” conveniences as gas stations and supermarkets?

Then head to Petersham, where stately shade trees line the town common, there isn’t a stop light in sight, and you can, once again, linger at the country store to chat with friends and neighbors.

When the Petersham Country Store closed its doors in December 2012 after 170 years of continuous operation, its loss was felt throughout the community. From its opening during the 1840s, this classic New England general store had been the heart of the town, offering a gathering place where local residents could socialize and discuss town affairs, and children could enjoy treats such as penny candy and ice cream cones.

Of course, it was also a popular tourist attraction frequented by visitors to the town’s past and present inns, abundant conservation land, and scenic country roads. After it closed, in true New England fashion, the community came together to find a solution.

Situated in the town’s commercial-free historic district amidst other historic buildings and the North Common Meadow, the store’s rural charm and history has long offered a refreshing change of pace from strip malls and other modern developments. The building, which features Greek revival architecture, has also been home to the town post office and grange.

And thanks to the dedicated efforts of local residents and organizations during the past year, the County Store is slated to reopen this spring. The building was purchased by the East Quabbin Land Trust in December 2013, and leased to town residents Ari and Jeanneane Pugliese, who also own Picasso’s restaurant in nearby Barre. After a busy winter of renovations, it is scheduled to open in April 2014, with a celebration tentatively planned for May.

The store will offer a diverse selection of grocery items including locally-grown food, a deli and café, ice cream, gifts by local artisans, and catering services.

“The goal is to keep it running without ever stopping again,” said former proprietor Chuck Berube. The store is close to many country attractions, including the Petersham Craft Center, North Common Meadow, Swift River Reservation, Harvard Forest, Route 122 Scenic Byway, and the expansive Quabbin Reservoir.

Visit the East Quabbin Land Trust website for updated information on the store’s re-opening — and other great places to visit in Petersham.

If you’re looking for a great day trip to a traditional New England village, take a leisurely ride down Route 122 to Petersham … and be sure to stop by the country store for a chat.

Story and photo contributed by John Burk