New Boston Historical Society
New Boston, New Hampshire
lunch counter
Bob & Marjorie Bose in Kane's Luncheonette - 1959

The Luncheonette

"Luncheonette" is a uniquely American word that describes "a small restaurant, similar to a diner, where the patron sits on a stool on one side of the counter." Kane's Luncheonette is one of several which operated in the building that is now Tates Gallery, beside the bridge in New Boston's Central Square. The photograph at the top of this page, in which Paula LeBaron's parents are seated at the lunch counter in Kane's, reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Greer's Drugstore
Greer's Drugstore - photo from Granite Monthly, 1897

In the late 1800s, Ezra Dodge had his cobbler's workshop on this site, and his wife Betsey sold ice cream from her parlor on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. After Ezra died, Betsey sold the shop to Frank Greer. In the photo above, to the left of the shop labeled "Greer, Druggist", you can see the bridge, and McLane's Blacksmith Shop with its ramp to a second-floor carriage shop, and the general store which today is Dodge's. Some time before 1920, a man named Bartlett relocated Greer's shop and built a new, larger store on the same site, which is the store you see today.

Hagland's Drugstore in the 1920s - built by Ernest Bartlett
The left half of the building was Ernest Hagland's store; there was a grocery store to the right, and at one time, gas pumps out front.

Drugstore (left) and The Tavern (right)
The War Memorial you see in the traffic circle was moved to the Town Green in 1947.

Ernest "Pop" Hagland - 1932
What is the connection between drugstores and ice cream? I don't know!

Kane's Luncheonette
Kane's Luncheonette - 1961

When Ernest Hagland retired in 1948, Ernest Bartlett sold the entire building to Howard and Bernard "Barney" Kane. The Kane brothers were not pharmacists, but they sold patent medicines, gifts, and groceries, in addition to running a lunch counter. In 1953, Barney bought Howard's half of the business. Barney and his wife Dorothea "Skibby" Kane moved from an apartment in the Creamery into a small house next to the store in 1956.


Barney and Dorothea had two sons, and it was their younger son Steve Kane who shared his mother's photo albums with me, and his memories of New Boston in the 1950s, too. The Kane house next to the luncheonette was in the center of town, so the 4th of July parade passed right by their front doorstep, as you'll see in the photos below.

4th of July parade
4th of July parade - 1955
This parade float was sponsored by Cott Beverages, as sold in Kane's Luncheonette.

4th of July parade
Edgar Clayton Cann (in the top-hat) was Barney Kane's step-grandfather.

Edgar Cann was the father of Fred Cann, who owned Mapadot's Orchard and the Creamery. After Barney's father Albert Kane died, his mother Mary Kane married Fred Cann in 1953, so Edgar Cann (the man in the top-hat) was Barney Kane's step-grandfather. I included this photo of Edgar because it's unusual to see a man who was born in 1862 (when Abraham Lincoln was president!) riding in a shiny new Cadillac.

Babson Reports Library - 1961

Steve Kane helped me find another photo of the buildings in the background of the 1955 parade photos, because I wanted to know what the sign was on the building that's now the TD Bank. With a magnifying glass we could see the words "Babson Reports Library". After 1948, Roger Babson's Gravity Research Foundation was headquartered in New Boston, and Babson owned a lot of property in the village. The Foundation had offices in the red brick building across High Street from the "reports library". Steve's friend Jeff Silva lived upstairs in the brick house, and Jeff's father worked for Babson.


On August 12, 1957, Kane's Luncheonette caught on fire in the middle of the night; a problem with a water heater was the suspected cause. Barney and Skibby awoke at 1:00AM to the sound of bottles of tonic exploding next door. Skibby bundled their children out of the house while Barney raised the alarm. Volunteer firemen (including Barney) directed by Fire Chief Robert Barss fought the blaze and saved the Kane house. The newspaper reported that the store and its contents were declared a total loss.

New Store
Barney Kane in the doorway of his new store

The next newspaper clipping in the scrapbook, dated October 26, 1957, only ten weeks later, announced the grand opening of Kane's new store. "Gutted by fire last August 12, Barney Kane has had workmen on the job giving the place a thorough facelifting outside and entirely new stock, furnishings and fixtures inside."

New Store
Dorothea "Skibby" Kane behind the lunch counter of the "new store" - 1957
Seated are: Barney's nieces Sharon and Sandy Todd, and Oliver Bailey who worked in Homer Dodge's store.

Christmas dinner 1957

Skibby Kane was a fine cook, according to people who remember Kane's Luncheonette. In the photo above, she's carving a turkey in the kitchen of her Maple Street home.

During hunting season, Barney opened his luncheonette before dawn so that hunters could grab a cup of coffee and something to eat. In 1963, after fourteen years of working long, long hours, the Kanes sold their store and moved to Merrimack.

Pringle's Store - 1963

Murray and Helen Pringle bought the luncheonette. We have no pictures of the store from when they owned it, only a newspaper ad. I'm told that their fish & chips were excellent. Later, Elsie Burbee ran the store for a while; after she died Henry Dodge purchased the small house next to the luncheonette and had it demolished. Henry remodeled the store, which was rented by Roger Webber to sell antiques, and subsequently by a real estate agent and an insurance agent.

For many years, the building was the home of Hunter's Angling Supplies. Bill Hunter sold everything a fly fisherman might need, and you often saw someone standing in the parking lot, practising their fly-casting.

Tates Gallery 2019
Tates Gallery 2019

Today the store is the home of Tates Gallery, a goldsmith's workshop which also sells jewelry and products made by local artists.

If you want to sit down and have a bite to eat in the center of New Boston, there is a café only a stone's throw away. The café is delightful; however it does not have a luncheonette counter, or shiny metal stools, or a sign listing all the flavors of Hood ice cream.

--Dan R. 2019