The Coffren Store in Maryland is a rare example of a well-preserved, mid 19th-century general merchandise store.
Small local stores of this type one-room utilitarian structures including a Post Office once commonly dotted the rural landscape of the county. Most have long since disappeared, and the few others remaining have been altered. The Coffren Store is the only intact example in the county.
NORTHEAST (FRONT) ELEVATION – Coffren House, Store, 10007 Croom Road, Croom, Prince George’s County, MD
John W. Coffren (1828-1874), who rose from ditch digger to wealthy merchant, served on the Vestry of St. Thomas Church in Croom and on the Prince George’s County School Board, as well as owning much of the property in the Village of Croom.
Coffren House ca. 1930 – Library of Congress
Listed as a ‘ditcher’ in the 1850 census, Coffren was operation a store on the present store site, probably in the present building, by 1853. He was 26 years old at the time and lived above the store while acquiring 58 acres of property in the surrounding area.
VIEW OF INTERIOR, WEST REAR CORNER OF STORE (NOTE: SECTION OF COUNTER TO REAR, RIGHT SIDE HOUSES THE CASH DRAWER) – Coffren House, Store
VIEW OF INTERIOR, SOUTH REAR CORNER OF STORE INCLUDING REAR DOORWAY AND PARTIALLY ENCLOSED STAIRWAY TO SECOND FLOOR – Coffren House, Store
INTERIOR VIEW, SOUTH REAR CORNER OF STORE SHOWING STAIRWAY – Coffren House, Store
He established the first post office in the store in the mid-1850s and served as postmaster until his death.
CASH DRAWER WITH COIN DRAWER REMOVED TO REVEAL SECTIONS TO HOLD DOLLAR BILLS BENEATH – Coffren House, Store
Coffren was appointed to the first Board of County Commissioners in July 1865. He represented Nottingham, Aquasco and Surratt’s Districts and oversaw the building of a school in Croom in 1866. He served as vestryman for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Croom, from 1867 to his death in 1874.
INTERIOR VIEW OF BEHIND THE NORTHWEST COUNTER, LOOKING NORTHEAST TOWARDS THE POST OFFICE, SHOWING THE BINS/DRAWERS – Coffren House, Store
According to local legend, Confederate troops from the area met and drilled in front of the store.
INTERIOR VIEW, SECOND FLOOR, LOOKING FROM NORTHEAST FRONT, FINISHED ROOM INTO SOUTHWEST REAR, UNFINISHED STORAGE AREA. STAIRWAY TO LEFT. – Coffren House, Store
The plan and features of the store are unchanged since its construction. An inventory of personal property made at Coffren’s death documents the merchandise stocked in the building, including grain and seed, tools and nails, food stuffs, clothing, drugs for the two local physicians, and wines and liquors. The Coffren Store, constructed ca. 1853, is a utilitarian structure, designed for use as a one-room general store. The Coffren store closed in 1945
Today his house and store are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The village of Croom formed along a bend in Croom Road between Croom Airport Road and St. Thomas Church Road during the 1840s and 50s.
INTERIOR VIEW, FIRST FLOOR, SIDE/STAIR HALL TO NORTHWEST OF HOUSE, LOOKING WEST-SOUTHWEST – Coffren House
INTERIOR VIEW, FIRST FLOOR, VIEW OF FRONT PARLOR WITH ADJOINING DINING ROOM TO REAR, LOOKING SOUTH – Coffren House
In 1853 Croom was composed of several houses, a blacksmith shop, a wheelwright’s shop and John W. Coffren’s store.
With the port of Nottingham four miles to the east and Upper Marlboro, the County seat, four miles to the north, Croom remained a village serving local farms and plantations.
- National Register of Historic Places
- Library of Congress
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Tapestry of Love Historical Series 2nd edition 2015
Court records dating back to the 1630s create historical accuracy as the reader is taken back to the primitive days of colonial Virginia and Maryland where the Pattendens encounter life-changing difficulties with Indians, ducking stools, illness, massacres, death, loneliness, love, and greed.