Nichols Block

The building in the center of this photograph was built in 1877 for Edwin Nichols’ department store, which specialized in clothing, fabrics, and ornamental goods. The building was originally a two-story wood-framed structure in the Italianate style. This style was popular in the mid-1800s as the United States looked towards a romantic past for inspiration. The heavy eaves supported with substantial, decorative brackets and ornamented pediments over the windows harken back to the medieval Italian villas. The third story, with its two bay windows, was added in 1896 in a similar style.

Lester Nichols took up the popular hobby of photography as a teenager. After graduating from Brown University he went to work in his father’s store, eventually taking over. This photograph was likely taken during one of the town’s annual Bennington Battle Day celebrations, when stores and homes in town were festooned with patriotic bunting and flags. The building stands today largely as it did in the early 1900s, with the exception of a façade of Rochester green marble on the street level, which was added in 1949.

E.L. Nichols’ Department Store Decorated for Bennington Battle Day, c. 1905

Glass plate negative, Lester H. Nichols (1880-1967)

Bennington Museum Collection, Gift of Lloyd Oppenheimer