The building that is Canal Towne Emporium’s home was built in 1839 by H.R. Morris, who operated it as a general store. It was purchased by Joseph E. Holmes in 1869, local canal boat builder, who started expanding the scope and nature of the shop, entering into trade agreements with canal boat companies to receive and send merchandise on the boats. He succeeded by his son, Lyman O.R. Holmes, who expanded the the size and scope of the store to become a grocery, sports goods, paint and an “almost everything else” general store. This very successful business continued until 1958, when he retired. The building remained in the family, but stood vacant for 18 years.
Then, in 1974, Doris Holmes, wife of Lyman O’s son, had the idea of opening a shop. Although she had no retail experience, she opened the store with one thought: to offer quality items and treat the customer as she would like to be treated. So, on May 23rd, 1976, Canal Towne Emporium was born and a family tradition was re-established.
Doris and husband Lyman brought in designer Gary Eckhart, who removed past attempts to modernize the store and restored it to its original turn of the century atmosphere, using equipment and furnishings from the original store. The store has been expanded over the years and sons Lyman and Gary, the fourth generation of Holmes’, now carry on the tradition.