FAIRMONT — Decades ago, it was the place to see and be seen.
Mumby’s and the Stockman’s Club, located on Highway 6 in Fairmont, were once bustling hubs of food, entertainment and a place to fill ‘er up.
Mumby’s – a hybrid gift shop, café and filling station – came first, in the 1940s. The gift shop, however, didn’t sell the gift shop kitsch we know. Rather, the shop offered fine porcelain and other pricey collectibles from all over the world.
Yet more was to come. In the mid-1960s, Mumby’s owners Mr. and Mrs. Ernest F. Mumby of Fairmont and Ernest “Brad” Mumby of Exeter decided to expand Mumby’s Gift Shop and Filling Station. In 1966 the Mumby’s held an open house to usher in the advent of Stockman’s Club – a members-only restaurant and entertainment establishment.
About that time a person could be a Stockman’s Club member for $5 a year, and on special occasions diners could get a USDA Choice sirloin steak dinner for well under that. Entertainers from near and far frequented the club while members and their guests danced the night away. The Mumby family’s new establishment was the talk up and down Highway 81.
The initial success, however, was short-lived.
In 1967 fire raged through the wood frame and brick building, destroying the establishment and its contents to the tune of $150,000. The blaze started slowly on an electric broiler in the kitchen, eventually engulfing the building. Nearby structures were threatened. The inferno required the services of the Fairmont, Exeter, Geneva, Grafton, McCool and York fire departments. No one was injured.
The Mumby’s debated whether to rebuild or fold, with one of the Mumby’s telling several daily newspapers, “I would like to rebuild, but right now I don’t know.”
In the 1930s, long before the Mumby’s ownership, Fred Stratton established a filling station and truck-stop on the site. Within a year, the business was sold to Wayne Harrington. Harrington transformed the somewhat modest property into a flourishing business, taking full advantage of its prime location. The Mumby’s came into the picture in 1947, building upon Harrington’s success – and then some.
The fire in 1967 was preceded by another that could have easily become catastrophic. The filling station cheated fate in 1961 when a collision involving a stock trailer occurred near the gas pumps. A small fire started, but was quickly extinguished by Fairmont’s firefighters.
Following the fire in 1967, there was an eventual rebuild. Decades later, in 1989, the building was confronted by insult: the onetime jewel at the crossroads of Highway 6 and Highway 81 was purchased at a tax foreclosure sale for a mere $13,000. In the decades that followed, there were efforts to revive the Stockman’s Club to its full glory, but none seemed to stick.
Continually rising from its ashes, the Stockman’s Club building has housed a day care and a private dwelling. Most recently, though, it has spent years sitting empty, the interior buckling and warping from water damage, the exterior crumbling away. Following a recent demolition project, the site is but a flat, cracked concrete lot with a few piles of broken construction debris. The rumor mill offers plenty of theories about the site’s next enterprise, but one thing is certain:
Mumby’s and the Stockman’s Club can’t be duplicated.