HERITAGE WALKING TOUR - MAIN STREET
Take a walking tour of Exeter’s heritage district to see
and learn about some of the historic family businesses built by Exeter’s first settlers.
1 – 467 MAIN STREET
In 1874, this corner was the original location of the Molson’s Bank. The stately house was later incorporated into the R.N. Rowe funeral home and furniture business when Mr. Rowe became its owner in 1887. Mr. Rowe’s grandson, R.C. Dinney took over the business in the 1940s and where his son operated Exeter Home Furniture until 2014.
2 – 445 MAIN STREET SOUTH
This building originally housed the Commercial Hotel – one of Exeter’s seven accommodators in its day. William Drew, responsible for many early Main Street businesses, constructed the building in 1860. The Commercial Hotel remained in business until the 1920s and was then converted into apartments on the upper floors with a variety of retail outlets on the street level.
3 – 417, 415, 413 & 411 MAIN STREET SOUTH
417 Main Street – This sturdy brick structure was built by Isaac Routledge Carling Jr. and was where he practiced law well into the 20th century.
“The Carling Block”: 415, 413, 411 Main Street – Home to Isaac Carling Sr.’s General Store, which had a presence on Main Street for over 60 years. After outgrowing the original frame structure, built in the late 1840s, a new brick building was constructed and still stands today.
4 – 387, 385, 383 MAIN STREET SOUTH
387 Main Street – This building was Exeter’s only private banking institution that opened in 1877 and was owned and managed by Benjamin O’Neill. In the early 1900s, he sold his financial holdings to the Sovereign Bank of Canada. The building then became a law office and has continuously provided legal services to the town and its neighbouring communities.
385 – 383 Main Street – “The Eacrett Block” – In the 1860s, C. Eacrett built this two story building. One retail storefront was a harness shop operated by Eacrett, while the second was a department store that accommodated the shopping needs of the community. The Ranton Brothers operated the latter until the 1890s when the store became “The Big Bankrupt Store” offering a variety of merchandise at discount prices.
5 – 355 MAIN STREET SOUTH
Built by the Gidley brothers in 1887 (date is inscribed in stone work on upper level of building) for the relocation of their busy furniture and chair-making business that originally opened in 1859 farther north on Main Street. An undertaking and funeral business was added in later years. The upper level of the building has been the permanent meeting place for the Oddfellows since 1887 and the Rebekah Lodge since 1947.
6 – 386, 388, 390 MAIN STREET SOUTH
386 Main Street – Established in 1872, partners George Samwell and Richard Pickard employed 40 clerks to run their dry goods and household essentials business.
388 Main Street – Next to the dry goods store, Hugh Spackman sold hardware. The room above was an early meeting hall for the Masonic Order.
390 Main Street – The Exchange Bank of Canada, established in 1870. While the stores were very successful, the bank failed in 1882.
7 – 392, 394, 396 MAIN STREET SOUTH
392 Main Street – John and Richard Farmer operated a grocery, flour and feed business for a number of years at this location. One might suggest it was the site of the first Farmers’ Market in Exeter.
396 – 394 Main Street – The building originally served as the first Bible Christian Church. When the church relocated in 1862, the building became a Liquor Store.
8 – 424 MAIN STREET SOUTH
From the 1880s until recent years, this building was the long-time home of Exeter’s weekly newspaper, “The Times,” which started publishing in 1873. In 1924, “The Times” merged with the town’s second local newspaper, “The Advocate” and today still publishes as the “Exeter Times-Advocate”. In recent years, the newspaper moved from this familiar Main Street address to a new location two blocks north.
9 – 412 & 414 MAIN STREET SOUTH
412 Main Street – W.J. Heaman opened his hardware business in the north retail space in the early 1900s. In later years, the business became part of the Home Hardware family.
414 Main Street – This building housed the offices of the Jackson Manufacturing Company that produced a quality line of work clothes sold across the country and provided employment for many young ladies.
10 – 440 MAIN STREET SOUTH
This 3-story building was constructed by James Pickard for his business, the “Old reliable House,” a store where shoppers could find a wide variety of merchandise. Forty-six employees assisted customers with hardware, groceries, dry goods, clothing and any other purchases. In later years, the Jackson Manufacturing Company produced its Lion Brand work clothes at this location.
OLD TOWN HALL
322 Main Street
The Town Hall was built in 1887 for a total cost of $8,000 and boasted a Hess Clock with wooden works built by Zurich clock maker, George Hess. In the early 1970s, the building faced demolition, but was restored and reopened in 1980 after the efforts of the Exeter and District Heritage Foundation. After an addition completed in 1995, the municipal offices and public library now reside in the Old Town Hall.