During the mid-1800s, this site housed the town of Maynard’s first ever drugstore (run by Thomas Wouldhave) and, later, the Somerset Hotel. (However, the building we see today was not built until 1909.)
Although the businesses that now stands in its place appear harmless, the old Somerset Hotel was once a source of major contention in Maynard. When B.J. Coughlan – whose son founded the Fine Arts Theatre – decided to build an inn at the corner of Main and River streets, his timing was rather unfortunate: Mr. Coughlan was thwarted by a small but feisty group of 10 Maynard citizens, led by Charles H. Cheney, aligned with the temperance movement. The temperance movement, or the push to illegalize “the demon alcohol,” first appeared in the United States in the early-to-mid 1800s and continued into the early 1900s. (In the 1930s, the movement was infamously rechristened “Prohibition.”) Charles H. Cheney’s group appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court in the hopes that the sale of alcohol could be illegalized in Coughlan’s building. Eventually, the courts ruled in Coughlan’s favor, and so the Somerset Hotel came to be in Maynard – ale and all.
Fun fact: In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution illegalized alcohol, launching the Prohibition Era.