Centerville’s Country Store: A Historic Gem

The 1856 Country Store, which sits on a quiet section of Main Street in the quaint village of Centerville, is a popular store selling many unique and homemade gifts. Visitors and locals alike flock to this spot to browse the shelves filled with candles, jams, jellies, candies, soaps, and toys. There truly is something for anyone of any age at 1856 Country Store.

However what lines the shelves is only a small part of the history and charm of this business and building. As the name indicates, that history goes back well over 150 years.

The Uchman family has owned the business since 1975. They had originally moved to Centerville looking to become innkeepers, and they bought the Old Hundred House on Craigville Beach Road in 1970.

The Uchmans run the Country Store as a family business in the old fashioned meaning of the phrase. In the early years, Mom, Dad, and their five daughters all worked together to do whatever they could to make it a success. Once Mom and Dad decided to begin wintering in Florida it was daughter Joanne who stepped in to manage the store.

centerville store01The red building’s history goes back to 1840 when it was built originally as a place to store cranberries after the harvest. It was turned into a shoe store by Samuel and Moses Hallet in 1842. They then changed it into a general store in, you guessed it, 1856. The store has been a beloved piece of Centerville and Cape Cod ever since.

Joanne and the entire Uchman family have loved every moment of their nearly forty years of ownership. “This store has been welcoming visitors for so many years,” Joanne says. “We have seen generations of families over the years. It is always an exciting time when the hustle and bustle of summer begins.It is so much fun to hear the happy memories people share with us on a daily basis.”

centerville store02However, as much as she loves the summertime crowds, it is the off-season that means even more to her. “We are very grateful to have a strong local following,” Joanne explains. “These are the folks we know by name, we’ve watched their children grow up. They keep us going through the long winter months. We wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”

It is a sentiment shared by so many long-time Cape Cod businesses: summer visitors are great, but the year-rounders are the ones who make or break you.

The Uchman family loves their loyal customers and they love the 1856 Country Store, it is a perfect match.

No discussion of the 1856 Country Store would be complete without a mention of the political benches out front. Some may wonder if there have ever been any serious political arguments, or worse, when it comes to the ‘Republican’ and ‘Democrat’ benches outside of the store.

“No arguments,” Joanne replies, “just some friendly banter…and a lot of laughs.”

If You Go: 1856 Country Store – 555 Main St., Centerville

Chris Setterlund, who lives in Yarmouth, is a lifelong Cape Codder and the author ofIn My Footsteps, a guide to historical sites on Cape Cod.

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