Elliot Elm Cafe in Brattleboro, Vermont (1926)

This snapshot was for sale in a shop near Bellows Falls, Vermont, called The Big Red Barn.  The names of the women in the photo are written on the back, along with the location: Elliot Elm Cafe, Brattleboro, VT.

I haven’t found any information about the Elliot Elm Cafe, but the Elliot Street Cafe was located at the corner of Elliot and Elm streets.  I was sorry to find that it closed in 2011 or 2012.  It was replaced by a coffee shop called The Restless Rooster, which in turn was forced to close in 2017 when the building was put up for sale.  According to the realtor, the building dates to 1830, though you wouldn’t guess it from the outside.  Feel free to click and drag the Google Street View below to see the neighborhood:


A calendar from Brattleboro Steam Laundry is hanging on the back wall, displaying the month of May 1926.  Here are close-ups of the staff, from left to right, as identified in the note on the back:

Elaine Columbus

Elliot Elm Cafe (1926) Elaine Columbus


? Nelson

Elliot Elm Cafe (1926) Nelson girl


Mrs. Nelson

Elliot Elm Cafe (1926) Mrs. Nelson


Grace Putnam and Anna (Columbus) Straw

Grace Putnam and Anna Columbus Straw


The note on the back also mentions that Anna (Columbus) Straw was the stepmother of Lucy (Straw) Lebert, and that Lucy’s mother was “Aunt Sadie (Crooker) Straw.”  The word aunt provides a link between the writer and the photo, albeit a distant one.  The writer must have been descended from a sibling of Sadie (Crooker) Straw.  Neither Sadie nor her daughter Lucy is in the photo, but Lucy’s stepmother is.

Looking on Ancestry.com, I found that Sarah J. (Sadie) Crooker was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, about 1871, to Andrew J. Crooker and Lucy A. Jones.  In 1888, when she was about 17, she married Frank S. Straw.  She died twenty years later, in 1908.  Her daughter, Lucy F. Straw, was eighteen years old when Sadie died.  At some point after that Frank Straw married Anna Columbus, seated at far right in the photo.  Anna had been married before as well.  This is probably more detail than most readers would find interesting, but I thought I’d try to make sense of it, in case anyone reading this has a connection to any of these folks.

Elliot Elm Cafe (1926) 2


If you’re interested, you can see what the interior of the building looks like, at least while it’s for sale:


Thanks for coming along on this little trip back to 1926.  How about a cup of coffee before you go?

Elliot Elm Cafe (1926) 3




17 thoughts on “Elliot Elm Cafe in Brattleboro, Vermont (1926)

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    1. Wouldn’t that be fun! I’ve heard of people stitching together old photos to look like Street View, but the photos would have to have been taken around the same time. Thanks so much for coming on this little tour of faraway Vermont! 😊

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Til I read the date, I thought it was later, but maybe cafe staff uniforms don’t change much – their hairstyles look about right. I love the photo, I’d probably have bought it too! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Val! It looks like a very typical little country diner, the sort of place you could find in almost any town in America. Restaurants today tend to have more character, generally speaking, but this place had a pressed tin ceiling, painted walls (what color?), and lots of coat hooks!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi Brad,

    I love the photo, despite the fact that it looks like a very dull place to stop. Maybe once it was filled with people and coats on the hooks, it might have had more appeal. It is a treasure trove of information. Fantastic to have all those names to research. The enlargements came up so well. It must’ve been a fine quality photo in its heyday. Looking forward to your next post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Kate! Brattleboro is actually a lively town of about 12,000 souls, which is a lot for Vermont. The building is just a few blocks from downtown, an easy walk, but it has its own parking lot, which it wouldn’t downtown. It would have catered to local people with cars. But you’re right, it wouldn’t have appealed to tourists. It would have appealed to no-frills types like this guy: https://tokensofcompanionship.blog/2017/12/08/vermonter-whod-rather-be-doing-something-useful/

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, indeed. Brattleboro was the big cit-tay for those of us in the northern part of the state. The town where I went to junior high and high school had about 1,500 people when you included Enosburg Falls, West Enosburg, East Enosburg, and Enosburg Center.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Vermont has so many villages and they’re relatively close to each other. Very different from Virginia, where the towns are much farther apart. I guess the difference stems from early agriculture–family farms in Vermont, plantations in Virginia.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Love your work. Such comprehensive research. I love the idea of using modern elements to add dimension. Google Earth is amazing. In some locations, ie London, there is a date slider in the top left hand corner. You can slide back to various points in history. London, post WW2 bombing, is an eye opener. Thank you for your post. I enjoyed it very much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s very kind of you, Margaret! I could do more research, but I try to strike a balance between the visual and descriptive elements of each post. Some photos call for more explanation than others. I sometimes add details later, so that posts will be more likely to appear in search engines results.

      I didn’t know about the date slider feature in Street View for London. That sounds very cool!

      Liked by 2 people

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