Penacook, NH

Briar Pipe / The Giant Store

My grandmother worked here when it was a woolen mill. I remember it as The Giant Store. It was a great place, and I can still hear the old wooden stairs creak as I walked up to the second floor. They were very wide stairs. I would take my $1.00 allowance and spend hours there figuring out what I was going to buy! The building now is housing for seniors.

The Old Penacook High School
Penacook Fire Station – Washington Street

This is a great old building that is now owned by the school district and is used for storage and such. I went on a trip as a Girl Scout there when it was still used as fire station. I thought the brass pole they slid down was neat and wished they let us have a turn – they didn’t.

Penacook, NH – 1938 Flood

I scanned this from one of my Grandmother LaValley’s photos, years ago. She used talk about the flood of 1938, and she had some amazing photos. The photo on the left was downtown Penacook – looking north, I believe. I am unsure about the photo on the right.

Coke Ad – Spearmans

I loved this old sign painted on the side of the old Merchant’s Exchange building in downtown Penacook. Unfortunately, it is no longer there.

Olive Merchant LaValley in the center of the photo.

This is a scan of a picture that I took of an old postcard that my grandmother LaValley (Olive Merchant LaValley) had. She said the picture was taken shortly before the bridge was torn down (early 1920s?). She grew up just a few houses from this bridge on Washington Street. Not many years after she married – she lived just across the street from where she grew up. My grandparents lived at 98 Washington Street and owned the land to the left of this bridge. My grandmother told me two sisters were also in the pictures (Case family, I believe who later moved away). My grandmother is the little girl in the middle.

Downtown Penacook
Casper – The Albino Squirrel


  1. I lived on Carter Hill Rd many years ago. While in high school (Concord High) I worked @ the Giant Store. My sister now lives @ the present (Briar Pipe Apts). Thanks to your website, it put together Giant Store aka Briar Pipe Apts. for me. Thank you

    • I adored the Giant Store! I spent many an hour in there trying to figure our what to spend my $1.00 on. 🙂

  2. yah its sadd too say but i remember the giant store my older sister worked their

  3. but its only sadd cuzz im that old i love the history of pennacook

  4. Love this and loved the giant store…would walk it at night to not be home ….lived on trailer behind the laundromat near thirty pines….philipkoerner

  5. Debbie I think the picture of the ’38 flood going over the dam is at the contoocook river park..

  6. Hi, you sure brought back some memories of Penacook! Check out facebook to see a couple of old pictures that Ruth Speed has posted of Ted’s Restaurant. My grandparents had a meat market at the same spot in the 30’s, I believe. It was called “Lacoy’s Market.” Keep up the great blog!

  7. My great grandfather, Henry J. Merchant was Napoleon Merchant’s brother. I have a lot of old photos of the Merchant family including some of Napoleon. I’ll be happy to email them to you if you email me.

  8. Thanks much for the photos! I grew up on Pine Street, attended Immaculate Conception School, then Penacook High, and have many fond memories of Penacook: the Palace Theater, for example, and an old-time drugstore with a marble counter which sold tobacco, medicine, horehound candy, and cherry cokes! I visited years ago and the drugstore – which hadn’t changed much since the late 1800’s – had been gutted and turned into a modern CVS I believe. Nothing stays the same of course, but old places give us a sense of continuity.

    I remember the Giant Store as well! Once, when walking up those creaking stairs that you mention, my foot caught on a lamp cord and a floor lamp fell down the stairs. I was around 10 years old. Friends and I once played UNDER the store, which was built as a mill, over a river. We’d climb the rafters from one side to the other.

    I remember one of our nuns – Sister Mary Borromeo – taking a bunch of us Christmas caroling one year, into the town square, while it was snowing. We also went to a couple of nearby houses to sing, including one that was owned by two elderly women who were sisters. They had turned their porch into a candy store, and going there for penny candy was a treat.

    Penacook was a great place to have grown up. People were kind for the most part and trusting back in the 50’s. I had woods and fields to play in, trees to climb, places to explore, pumpkins to carve at Halloween, purchased at a nearby farm, trips to Thirty Pines with my dad, wonderful Christmases, etc. I have countless good memories (and a few bad ones 🙂 A pity that our kids will likely not experience the same in the same measure.

  9. I grew up in Penacook in the 70s as I remember Penacook it was great. I have vivid memories I know its not the same. people /places are still fresh but then theres some I soon forget.

  10. I haven’t been to Penacook in years, but the 2015 photo of the downtown makes it look absolutely sterile. I remember the downtown as being a vibrant place, even if many of its buildings dated to circa 1900 and were in a sort of run down condition. There were all kinds of little mom and pop shops and stores. Where did they go? Looks like a lot got torn down.

    • Hi Anne – some of the very old buildings aren’t there any more. Some burned – some were torn down to make room for other buildings. Most of the factories are no longer open in Penacook. It is more a residential area now – but the downtown was recently renovated and it is very nice.

  11. Hi Debra! We exchanged emails several months ago; I grew up on Pine Street (with the name “Robert Leonard”) and you were friends with my sister, Deborah. I periodically search for photos of Penacook, and am always led to your blog. (I know that Penacook is part of Concord, but find it annoying that a Google search for “Pine Street Penacook” only yields results for Pine Street IN Concord. Sheesh!) As an aside, it suddenly occurred to me that my maternal grandmother’s maiden name was “Valley”, which had been shortened from “LaValley”. Her parents or grandparents came to Vermont from Quebec in the 19th century. Would be funny if we shared a common ancestor way back when! Our grandmother once told us that she was somehow related to singer Rudy Valley, so there’s a claim to fame I guess. 🙂

    • Hi Gunnar, Pine Street is not Hullbakers Place. The street names in Penacook were changed because of 911 and so many streets named the same in Concord. Of course, Washington Street stayed – which doesn’t fit the logic. My LaValley relatives did come from Canada and then to VT. I haven’t hear of the name of any of my ancestors shortened to Valley though. 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog! I do remember you emailing me a while ago. I hope you are well.

  12. Hello Debra, THANK YOU for this information! Hulbaker’s Place – classier sounding than “Pine Street” I guess!



    • A neighbor created the name using the letters in the names of people on the street and Jim Place lives at the end of the street – so it became Hullbakers Place when we had to change the name.

  13. Thanks for the information, Debra! I Googled images of Hullbaker Place, saw one house that “sort” of looked familiar, a few that didn’t, didn’t find one of our old home at #14, but DID find the house across the street from it. It’s been updated, with a big addition added, but the lines of the house are the same, as is (I think) the garage behind it. I don’t drive, maybe I can talk a friend into making a day trip to Penacook in the fall; would be nice to walk around and see old sites from my childhood. I know that some are gone. Hopefully someone won’t call the police because I’m staring at their house. 🙂

  14. Thank you so much for these! I’ve been searching for information on the Pennacook Native of NH, and these photos are amazingly helpful!

    • Hi Michelle, these native Americans were not Penacook Indians – but Indians that visited Penacook, NH.

  15. I’m Kathy Frost. I grew up on the Manor, on Snow St. Right across from Thirty Pines store. I even graduated from Penacook High, I was in one of the last classes before they built the new high school. I see the pictures of Penacook now and wonder if I would even recognize it. I left New Hampshire back in 1969. I tried Google maps but my old house wasn’t visible. I don’t even know if it’s still there. I have great memories from growing up there in the 50s and early 60s, I know I had the freedom to roam, and ride my bike, and hike the woods, things I never let my own kids do, much less my grandchildren. Life then was so much more calm and safe. Or we were just more naive. Thanks for posting the memories. (And I remember those wide, wooden stairs at the Giant Store, too. And we walked from PHS to the drug store, bought candy bars, and then waited in the freezing cold waiting for the city bus to get us home rather than walk the mile home to the Manor. In the fall, we walked home so we could grab some apple “seconds” that were kept in a big box out front of a store where they sold apples and made apple juice and cider. I wonder if they have school buses nowadays.)

    • Penacook is still very nice – but it has grown a bit since 1969. My parents grew up in Penacook. They bought our house in the mid 1960s 🙂 I live in Boscawen now – but my mom is still living in the house they bought (across the cemetery – was Pine Street – now is Hullbakers Place). I still love Penacook. If you lived in the house at the corner of Manor Road and Main Street (now Village Street) – it isn’t there any more. The house was torn down and it is now a vacant lot (for sale now after being empty for many years). Thirty Pine still exists – but looks much different (owned by 7 Eleven now – but still called Thirty Pines). Yes – they have school buses .. some kids still walk to school 🙂 My dad taught math at MVHS when they opened until he retired. He has since passed. Thank for visiting my blog. Debbie 🙂

      • We lived at 3 snow street. We had the empty lot at the beginning of the street, I guess it would have been #1 Snow Street, as well as the house at #3.

        We had friends named Lavalley (Arthur and Bennie), and their girls, Linda in my class and Jean one year behind, that lived one road over on Hobart St. (7 Hobart, I think.)

        Thanks for the information. Our house was tiny, only two bedrooms, one bath. I was told that it was built by my grandfather, I believe in the 1920s, we moved there in 1952 (it still had a wall mounted crank phone to call the operator), so I’m not surprised that it’s not there anymore. LOL

  16. The old Giant Store Santa …. are there any pictures of him … have beem telling my grandkids about the store and that Santa

    • Unfortunately – I do not have a photo of the Giant Store Santa! If you are on Facebook there is a group Penacook Yesterday and Today and the page recently posted a photo of the Santa. I think you may like the page. So if you are on Facebook – check it out. The woman who manages the page is quite the historian. There are so many neat things on the page. Happy New Year!

  17. Hi, great blog — I worked at the Giant Store part time in the mid-60s. kept the men’s wear department (up those wide stairs) orderly. Was working full time at Sprague Electric in Concord. Owned the old, old cottage across the street from the lumber mill on Washington street. Muriel LaValley was one of my wife’s aunts. She was secretary to the principal at Penacook High when me and my siblings went there.
    Thanks for posting all this great info. We moved from Penacook to Wooster, MA and then Merrimack, NH so I have been having a great time reminiscing.

    • I am glad you have enjoyed my blog. I am familiar with Muriel LaValley who was a secretary at the school – she was a different LaValley family – no relation. All the other LaValley’s in Penacook, Boscawen, and Concord were. My grand parents – John & Olive LaValley lived in the big white house past the Giant Store over the bridge from Electric Ave (on the right) … 98 Washington Street. My dad, Thomas, was born in that house. My grandmother Olive Merchant LaValley grew up in the house across the street (99 Washington .. Lilac Cottage … she used to call it.)

    • Wow the old giant store I grew up and lived on gage St near the boscawen elementary school I rember as a child myself and my older brother and sister riding up the elevator in that huge store spending many hours roaming each floor if the family needed something they had it usually tucked away in a corner or walk those creeks stairs and find it thanks for bringing the memory of my child hood bk

  18. Hi Debra!

    I’m just wondering if you know what the name of the Briar Pipe Apartment building was when your grandmother worked there. Was it “Briar Pipe Mill”?

    Also. Don’t know if you have any info on a few other Mills I’ve been curious about. I can send you pictures I’ve taken of them.


    • The Briar Pipe Apartment Building was The Giant Store, N.E.Briar Pipe Co., Standard Wostered, Brampton Mill, and The Holden Mill. There were many mills in the area. A good place for you to learn about many is the Penacook Yesterday and Today group page on Facebook (if you are on Facebook). It is a fascinating page and extremely educational. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Debbie

      • Thank you so much! These industrial past is so great. I’ll take a look at that Facebook page. Best wishes.

      • Wow the old giant store I grew up and lived on gage St near the boscawen elementary school I rember as a child myself and my older brother and sister riding up the elevator in that huge store spending many hours roaming each floor if the family needed something they had it usually tucked away in a corner or walk those creeks stairs and find it thanks for bringing the memory of my child hood bk

      • I too loved the Giant Store!

  19. Wow the old giant store I grew up and lived on gage St near the boscawen elementary school I rember as a child myself and my older brother and sister riding up the elevator in that huge store spending many hours roaming each floor if the family needed something they had it usually tucked away in a corner or walk those creeks stairs and find it thanks for bringing the memory of my child hood bk

  20. I just found your blog looking for old photos from different places I’ve lived and loved in NH. I grew up in Penacook, was the last of 9 children born to Sarah and Marble Kibbee on what was 26 Linden Street, and is now Meter Street. I went throughout school with your younger sister Mary Beth.
    I truly enjoyed sharing some common memories of Penacook as I saw photo’s and read both your own info, and others responses.
    The Giant Store was a big treat for me as a kid. It was so much fun to walk with my mother and brother, and stop on the old bridge. Kids perspectives are so much more appreciative in general I think of the simple pleasures of things, like running ahead of our mother to get to the bridge just so we could get those few extra seconds there climbing up a little just to watch the water rush by. I remember many creeky floor boards inside that store! And those wide stairs. The candy section was far over to the left of those stairs, and I always asked for the nonpareil‘s that sold in little flat boxes with a cellophane window…lol. Also a little area in the far back of the store where a piece of ledge entered inside the store, which always seemed damp.
    And Langlais’ ran the drug store in those days, Butts Funeral Home Was stately to me (many visits into that house growing up and clear memories of it inside and out), and those elder sisters one of your responders mentioned I clearly remember as thin and frail looking, but both seemed so happy every day when school kids came inside their little candy porch store.
    I went to the Summer Street school, then to middle school at what was built to be the High School (where my sister Mary graduated as valavictorian).Hoyts meter shop was just across the street some from there, and that’s where my mother worked for 22 years, and my fathers last job was as night watchman there. My mother talked about having worked at the Briar (I think she called it a dress mill at the time she worked there,but I might be wrong) Mill run by Germans she said. And yes, she spoke of the big flood,etc.,etc..
    Well …it’s just a flood of memories! I loved the woods,field, and river, that ran between my street and the land that jutted out into the river where that Briar Pipe factory sat. My best memories are of the nature of the place..the fields, woods, swamps,and all my animals growing up, and of the different types of music that scanned a few generations in and around our house.
    Well…thanks! I’m very glad you are doing this blog. It’s nice to share memories and histories.
    I left southern NH permanently by 1980, and lived in the north country which felt like home to me. I too have ancestry from Canadian to Vermont, and then to NH. I left NH entirely over25 years ago, and have missed it ever since. I longed to go back to the north country, but way leads to way….
    Well, I’m happy to hear you appreciate your home and love it. I truly believe New England in general is a really gifted place to have grown up, for many reasons.

    • I remember a Kibbee family on Linden St. What year did your sister graduate? Hoyts is still there. The funeral home was run by Michael Bourque and he recently stopped and sold the business (but not the building) to another business. The house is for sale. I loved the Giant Store. The Langlais family is still with the drug store. Kate is the pharmacist and Liz also works there. I love Penacook. I live in Boscawen now but am only about 1/2 mile from downtown Penacook. Thanks for visiting the blog and for the nice message. Take care, Debbie 🙂

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