Probably few of the thousands who daily pass the establishment of
Robert Seaver & Co on Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, realize that this
is the oldest grocery store in Greater Boston and probably in
Massachusetts, and that the store has been continuously in the hands
of the Seaver family since its foundation by Joshua Seaver in 1706.
Joshua Seaver, who was born in 1737, was for many years an instructor
of youth in Jamaica Plain. In 1796, after retiring from the teaching
profession, he bought an old store where the present establishment
stands, and where Gen Washington and his troops had obtained their
supplies during the Revolution. Seaver erected a new building on the
site where the old store stood, and Robert Seaver and his brother
Frederick, are still doing a flourishing business in the same
building, which is unchanged save for an addition in the front of the
In the olden days the store was the first stop for the stage coach on
its trip from Boston to Providence, and here the travelers stopped to
eat their lunch and sip their toddies. President Adams was a frequent
visitor to the store, as well as many of the military and political
celebrities of the time.
The business grew from year to year, and for upwards of half a century
it was the only grocery store south of Ruggles Street, Roxbury, between
Boston and Providence. From 1833 to 1885 Robert Seaver, the father of
the present owners, presided over the destinies of the store with
marked success. Mr. Seaver was a man of mark in the community, serving
in the lower house, the Senate, and holding positions of selectman,
foreman of the Fire Department, and many other responsible offices in
the old town of West Roxbury.
Frederick and Robert Seaver, sons of Robert, who have conducted the
store since the death of their father in 1885 are among the most
Prominent citizens of Jamaica Plain, being members of the Eliot Lodge
of Masons, the Jamaica Club, the Eliot Club, and many other prominent
organizations of the district.
Included among their customers are many the names of whose families
have been on the books of the firm for upwards of three-quarters of a
century. Francis Parkman, the famous historian, whiled away many an
hour with Robert Seaver. seated on the flour barrels, and trudged home
at the end of the day with his purchases. William J. Peters, father of
Congressman Andrew J. Peters, was, like his son, a steady customer, as
was Gen Francis Greene, who won his fame and title in the War of 1812.
The members of the Curtis family have traded with the Seaver firm from
the dawn of the 19th Century to the present day, as have nearly all
families of note in the ancient town of West Roxbury.
Joshua Seaver was one of the largest landholders of his time. He lived
in the house in which he as born, which still stands in the rear of
the store. His acres embraced nearly all the territory surrounding
Jamaica Pond, now dotted with hundreds of residences of the
well-to-do, and he drove his coach and four through the streets of
The Seavers hold among their most prized possessions every license
which has been issued to their family since the establishment of the
store in 1794 up to the present day, and are justly proud of the fact
that they are the owners of the oldest and one of the busiest grocery
stores in the state.
Both Messrs Frederick and Robert Seaver are also proud of the fact
that they have been constant subscribers to the Globe since its first
From the Boston Daily Globe November 30, 1913.