Minerva Lee and Gloria Murdie are two of the lucky ones who got to stay in the Adirondacks most of their lives, earn a living and retire here.
Actually, Lee is already retired. He only works a few hours a day, Tuesday through Sunday, but not for long. After more than 43 years, he’s retiring for good, closing Murdie’s General Store on Route 28N in Minerva at the end of November. Monday, Dec. 1 will be the first day of the rest of his life. He’ll be 73 years old.
“We had a good life,” Lee said. “We enjoyed meeting all the people and knowing all the people in Minerva. It’s a great little town. The people are friendly. It was a good life, like being a farmer.”
The Murdies are selling the general store building and business, a local landmark with plenty of history, if anyone’s interested in running a mom-and-pop shop in downtown Minerva. Otherwise, Murdie’s will go by the way of the history book, leaving only one store open in town, Sullivan’s Store at the Four Corners in Olmstedville.
“It was just a challenge in the sense of being able to keep things going and make a comfortable living and raise a family, like everybody else goes through,” Lee said.
Economic success for this Adirondack entrepreneur didn’t come easy, especially after the local logging and mining industries faded away in the 1980s. Still, as a family, the Murdies stuck together and persevered.
The story of Murdie’s General Store began in the mid-1890s, when the building was constructed for Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Hall. David Jones, who had been operating a store farther north in the village, bought the building in 1898 — during the William McKinley Administration — and it stayed in the Jones family for 67 years, until the Lyndon Johnson Administration. It was in operation when McKinley’s vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, made his famous night ride to the presidency from Tahawus to North Creek on Sept. 14, 1901. TR passed right by the store, which had at one point in its history been the location for the local post office. In 1936, Clarence Jones took over the business and gradually modernized the building, selling it to Walter Seeley in 1965.