Logo for: Colchester Historical Society

Earl Holmes Photographs of 1930's Colchester

Life-long resident of Colchester, druggist, postman, ham radio operator, historian, innovator, and accomplished photographer, Earl Holmes owned and operated the Holmes Drug Store on South Main Street from 1923 to 1960 and continued as a mail carrier until his retirement in 1975.

Born on July 12, 1894 to Frank and Louise (Wagner) Holmes, at 24 Earl became an assistant pharmacist to Harvey Buell in 1918.  Buell's pharmacy business in Colchester was originally started by Charles H. Rogers in 1853. As Mr. Rogers’ apprentice, H.P. Buell purchased the Rogers store in 1876 and operated as Buell Drugs until his own apprentice, Earl Holmes, purchased the business in early 19th century.   For well over one hundred years these three men supplied Colchester residents with medical drugs and the latest solutions to everyday pains and ills.  Along with the pharmacy, they offered dry goods, and operated a soda fountain.  Their storefront was located on Main Street, adjacent to the original Colchester Hayward Fire Department. 

Holmes’ Drug Store on South Main Street is remembered as a lively town information center.  As the first ham radio operator in Colchester, Mr. Holmes was the first person who received local, national and worldwide news and was often the one who spread the word about important news items, both good and bad. News of wars, World Series, politics, election were received by Holmes and communicated to Colchester residents.

Known as an innovator for his time, Holmes he set up a holiday exhibit of electric trains that, when passersby touched the window the display lights went on – “the first touch screen” in Colchester. 

Earl Holmes passed away February 22, 1977.  We are forever grateful to him for leaving a photographic history of Colchester spanning the early and mid-20th century.  The Colchester Historical Society is fortunate to have been loaned three albums of original pictures taken by Earl through circa 1915 -1920 capturing Brooklyn, New York, Niagara Falls and places throughout Connecticut.  With great skill in the fledgling field of both film and photography, he recorded an intimate portrait of Colchester.

We are very grateful to Earl Holme’s great-niece, Laura McIntyre, who brought her great uncle’s photograph albums to our attention and allowed us to reprint and preserve this wonderful visual history to share with you today.

Join the Colchester Historical Society

Help us preserve and share town history, engage the community, and tell the stories of our residents past and present.