Old General Store
In 1825 John Peoples and his wife built a general store in New Providence and lived above it. They sold harnesses and penny candy and flour and fabric. When the Peoples had more time and money, they added more living quarters and a post office. New Providence became a popular town with a train station, two general stores, one of the world’s largest fish hatcheries, a mill, some churches, blacksmith shops, a hotel and tavern.
The Peoples’ General Store became the Helms General Store then the Wiggins’ General Store. It closed in 1979; the shelves were emptied and everything was auctioned. By that time, the mill had already closed and then burned down and the train had stopped running. The post office moved to a new building. The fish hatchery kept operating though and there’s still a blacksmith shop in New Providence.
In 1986, when the Musser family bought the New Providence General Store, the Breyers’ Ice Cream sign was stowed in the attic and the hitching post was still standing, but many other architectural changes had been made. So began a 17-year restoration project.
When the Mussers bought the store in 1986 they never felt like the store belonged just to them. During a Christmastime house tour, a local resident told them he’d met his wife at the New Providence General Store in the days when she worked behind the counter dipping ice cream and he was a delivery boy. Other local residents told about begging their parents for penny candy while their parents shopped for groceries.
As travelers familiar with the difficulties of staying in a new place, the Mussers have long enjoyed sharing their home with guests who are new to Lancaster County. As members of an old Lancaster County Pennsylvania Dutch family themselves, the Mussers have enjoyed sharing their house with local friends and neighbors who remember shopping, meeting friends, and mailing letters at their historic home.