For the purposes of this virtual tour of South Berwick Village, we have applied the term The Point to the downhill part of what is now often dubbed lower Main Street, and used Happy Valley for the rest of the street. Note that the street on the 1877 map excerpt below is labeled Salmon Falls Street. Also called Salmon Street, it became part of Main Street in the 1910s.
A hundred years ago a bustling community known as Happy Valley nestled by the Salmon Falls, downhill from the “Plains” of South Berwick and closely tied to Salmon Falls Mill Village in Rollinsford, NH. Happy Valley was almost a world of its own.
Hundreds of people living and working at the Cummings Mill in South Berwick and at the Salmon Falls Manufacturing Company across the river in Rollinsford walked and shopped the main thoroughfare, known as Salmon Street. French was commonly spoken, as most of the residents were of French Canadian origin. With the town line at the Freewill Baptist Church in those days, much of the neighborhood actually lay in Berwick in the 1800s. In the early 20th century Happy Valley joined South Berwick and became known as Hog Point or simply The Point.
When this area was first settled in the 1600s, the road called Salmon Street in the 1800s and later often called “lower Main Street” did not exist as we know it today. Instead the road we call Butler Street led from the main part of South Berwick Village to the river, the Salmon Falls bridge to New Hampshire, and a cluster of early mills on the river. Tiny Salmon Falls Brook (also known as Driscoll Brook), which still runs through the neighborhood, also supplied water power thanks to a mill pond whose remains can still be seen today. Near the river, what is now Spillane’s Hill Road then continued northward toward Great Falls, at what is now downtown Berwick.
After the construction of the Great Falls and South Berwick Branch Railroad about 1852, the neighborhood was reconfigured to its modern layout. (See 1872 map.) Butler Street was cut off at the tracks, and in 1853 a “new Townway” – Salmon Street or later Main Street – was built to connect South Berwick village with the bridge to New Hampshire. Two railroad lines eventually crossed here, in addition to the conventional bridge. One railroad bridge, serving Amtrak’s Downeaster as well as freight trains, remained.
In the early 1900s the Point also contained a trolley terminus, a newspaper called the South Berwick-Salmon Falls Independent, public and parochial schools, and many businesses including stores, bars and lunch counters, and even a recreational center called “The Palace,” featuring professional boxing.
This excerpt from a South Berwick map of 1877 by Ruger & Stoner has been adapted to show the position of historic buildings built between c. 1830 and the early 20th century.
(This summary by Wendy Pirsig from archives at the Counting House Museum. Updated December 2020.)
This house appears on a map of 1901 and an early 20th century photo in the Counting House Museum archives.
This house appears on a map of 1901 as a duplex.
In the town report of 1905 an ad was published by Timothy D. Flynn saying, “Alteration Sale. I am going to enlarge my general store on Salmon Street...” According to a descendant who later lived in the building, the Flynn grocery was here. The building appeared as a grocery store on the map of 1901, but by 1927 the property had been converted to apartments. Many were homes for French Canadian families arriving to work in local factories.
Timothy D. Flynn, General Store, Salmon St., South Berwick. “Alteration Sale. I am going to enlarge my general store on Salmon Street, and propose to greatly reduce my stock before the carpenters get to work... A Few of the Many Bargains. King Quality $2.50 Shoes for Men, $2.50. Ladies’ Kid Boots, 50c. Men’s $2.00 shoes, 75c. Pure Gum Rubber Boots, $2.65...” -- 1905 South Berwick Town Teport
This house seems to appear on a map of 1901. In the 1870s this was the site of John Mahony's Billard Room, according to a local map.
On the map of 1901 this building appears as general store, and remained a grocery store on the map of 1927, when it was flanked to the right by The Palace roller skating and boxing arena. For a time it contained a cobbler shop. According to a local resident, in the 1930s, the store was operated by Delia Heon O’Donnell, who had married Daniel O’Donnell in 1912.
This house seems to appear on a map of 1901.
Salmon Falls Brook, also called Driscoll's Brook, runs through the Point, and a little stone bridge probably built by the Great Falls and Conway Branch Railroad in 1853 can still be seen below street level. Looking downstream from Main Street, a wooded area visible was once a mill pond used by the McIntire shingle mill in the 1800s. On the map of 1872, the railroad tracks appear, and the Bently & Stiles Soap Factory is also nearby. Remains of the dam and the railroad foundations could still be seen on a walk through the woods more than a century and a half later.
The McIntire (McIntyre) mill manufactured shingles, sashes and blinds, and even coffins, and sold products for many years at a retail store in the brick business block in town. The McIntire-McCooey Funeral Home later located at 301 Main Street is believed to be a descendant of this old family hardware and wood supply business.
From the 1920s until it burned in 1949, The Palace, operated by Leo “Ben” Vachon, drew patrons from miles around to boxing matches as well as pool, roller skating, basketball, and movies. Albert “Junior” Roberge grew up across the street, and appears here as a boy taking a boxing stance, with the Palace at left in the photo.
Leo Vachon, bowling alley, Vachon Block, Salmon Street, South Berwick, Maine – “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN – If you want to spend a pleasant afternoon and evening, visit the new Bowling Alleys in Vachon Block on Salmon Street, one of the best alleys east of Boston. Everything new and up-to-date. Best order maintained. Come in and inspect the place. You are always welcome. LEO VACHON, Proprietor” – 1923 South Berwick Town Report
Palace Theatre, Vachon Block, Salmon Street, South Berwick, Maine – “The largest and best hall in this section will soon open for MOVING PICTURES on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday Evenings and Saturday Matinees AT POPULAR PRICES – Special Dances on Thursday Evenings – GOOD MUSIC – BEST ORDER – You are cordially invited to attend.” -- 1924 South Berwick town report
Cobbler Arthur Landry, who had operated at 438 Main in the Preston building, according to a local resident, built this shop in the early 1900s and repaired shoes. It does not appear on the map of 1901, but is on the map of 1927. Landry's son Reo, whose barber shop was in Central Square in the old Jewett Store, moved here in the late 1900s. For years the building contained Reo's Barber Shop, operated by Arthur's grandson.
Arthur Landry, cobbler
Reo Landry and customer Peter Michaud at Landry's Central Square shop, 1973
This shop was a confectionery store on a South Berwick, Maine, map of 1901, and contained a soda fountain into the mid-20th century. For a time it may have been called Happy Valley Confectionery.
At the turn of the century the building was owned by Patrick Cauley, who emigrated from Ireland at age 12 in 1862. He and his wife Bridget moved to Maine in the early 1890s from New Hampshire, where Patrick had worked as a currier and as a shoe maker in a factory. He was able to buy the home on lower Main Street where his family of seven children lived. By 1910 Bridget died, and all of the children were working in the mills or caring for the family: Mary, the oldest, was at home; Catherine was married and living with her family of 3 in the same house with her siblings; Jennie was a dresser; Delia was at home, perhaps working in the shop; Jeremiah was in the shoe factory; 16-year-old Elizabeth was a spooler; and 12-year-old William was at home.
The candy store was operated by the family out of a ground-floor space facing the street, with two large plate-glass windows to display their wares. The Cauley family lived in the apartment above. The shop appears as a confectionery on a map of 1901, and it was still there in 1925 when this ad was printed in the South Berwick Town Report:
Sullivan & Cauley, Salmon Street, South Berwick, Maine – “We wish to inform the people of South Berwick and vicinity, that we have opened an up-to-date store in the Cauley Block on Salmon Street, and carry a first class stock of CONFECTIONARY, CIGARS, FRUIT, ICE CREAM, ETC., which we sell at the lowest prices consistent with the quality of the goods. TRY OUR HOME MADE FUDGE – Ice Cream and Pure Fruit Sodas and College Ices a specialty.” -- 1925 South Berwick town report
The Cauley business was succeeded by one owned by Alfred J. Seymour in 1926, according to town reports. William Cauley lived upstairs about 1925, and married Seymour’s daughter.
(Summary by Wendy Pirsig from archives at the Counting House Museum. Updated December 2020.)
The property adjoins Salmon Falls Brook and its former mill pond. A road once led to the mill area near the brook’s mouth on the river. The house, which was once a duplex, does not seem to appear on a map of 1901 but is on the map of 1927. The addition dates to 1937. According to family accounts, Albert Roberge, Sr. moved into this house after opening a candy store across the street, later 430 Main, about 1918. His uncle Joseph had operated a bakery there since 1900. The family later operated the Roberge Bakery next door at 431 Main. In 1920 Albert married Emily Gilliland, whose father drove a carriage for the Vaughans at their estate (now Hamilton House), and made many of the trails now in Vaughan Woods State Park. In the historic photograph, the Roberge House is the light-colored house, at far left.
In the town report of 1900, Joseph Roberge, baker, advertised his cream bread baked in “Happy Valley, So. Berwick, Me.” His bakery appears on a 1901 map as Confectionary/Bakery with brick oven section, and the oven may have remained a century later. Joseph Roberge lived upstairs in this building, according to family accounts. About 1918, nephew Albert Roberge Sr. then opened a confectionery in part of the building just before he was married. After his business had moved to the 431 Main Street location across the street in the early 1920s, the store belonged to Fred Dube, a wholesale grocer, according to Roberge family accounts. In the lot behind this store was a water tower, and Joseph Roberge ran the water company that supplied the entire Point neighborhood.
Joseph Roberge, Baker, Happy Valley, So. Berwick, Me. “Home Made Pastry is what you get from my bakery and a trial of the same will convince you that my statement is absolutely correct. Everybody who has used my CREAM BREAD will tell you that it is the best made. If my drivers do not call on you send me a postal for a Window Card and they will in the future.” —1900 South Berwick Town Report
In 1900, Joseph Roberge, baker, advertised his cream bread baked in “Happy Valley, So. Berwick, Me.” His bakery was located across the street at 430 Main. In the early 1920s, his nephew Albert Roberge moved the business to this shop, which still contained one of the old ovens almost a century later.
The South Berwick Town Report of 1900 lists this advertisement for the bakery:
“Joseph Roberge, Baker, Happy Valley, So. Berwick, Me. Home Made Pastry is what you get from my bakery and a trial of the same will convince you that my statement is absolutely correct. Everybody who has used my CREAM BREAD will tell you that it is the best made. If my drivers do not call on you send me a postal for a Window Card and they will in the future.”
This store appears on the map of 1872 as owned by L. Tibbetts, whose property in this area eventually lent the name to Tibbetts Street. The family was perhaps related to Rev. Lewis Tibbetts (1810-1885) of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Local residents recall that by the early 20th century the store contained three businesses including Provensal clothing store (left section), a beer joint (center) that became a lunch counter after South Berwick went dry in 1939, and a beauty parlor/barber shop operated by Mr. and Mrs. J. M. (Jack) Lynch (right). Hector Desjardin also had a barbershop there before the Lynches. It also briefly contained the O. Dube boot and shoe store.
Mrs. J. M. Lynch, Ladies’ Hair Dressing Parlor, Salmon Street, South Berwick, Maine – “Tel. 112-3 – Work by appointment – SHAMPOOING, FACIALS, BOBBING, MARCEL WAVING, VIOLET RAY TREATMENT, MANICURING, EYE BROW ARCHING, ETC.” -- 1925 South Berwick Town Report
This shop appears to be one owned by L. Tibbetts on the South Berwick, Maine, map of 1872. Tibbetts property in this area eventually lent the name to Tibbetts Street. The family was perhaps related to Rev. Lewis Tibbetts (1810-1885) of the Methodist Episcopal Church. On a map of 1901 this store appears to sell confectionary. It later was one of the Dube properties, perhaps O. Dube, Boot and Shoe Dealer (1928) or “The Bonnet Shoppe,” R. and A. Dube, Prop., millinery. Photos indicate it seems to have contained the Provensal store for some time in the early 20th century.
Mary Provensal was born in 1882 and operated a millinery and clothing shop here for over 30 years, starting in 1898, until her death in 1931. She sold “fancy goods”—dresses, hats, collars, and gloves—as well as sweaters, socks, curtains, and blankets.
(Summary by Wendy Pirsig from the archives of the Counting House Museum. Updated December 2020.)