Progressive Market

Progressive Market

Site: V11-19
Municipality: Hartford, VT
Location: South Main Street, White River Junction
Site Type: Store
Vt Survey No: --
UTMs: (Zone 18) E: 716220. N: 4834880

National Register Nomination Information:


The Progressive Market stands in a mixed-use neighborhood of houses and businesses approximately one block south of White River Junction's central business district. Both business (1st floor) and private residence (2nd floor), the Progressive Market reached its present appearance through four, and perhaps five, separate building campaigns. Constructed c. 1922, the 2-story structure at the front of the composition and its slightly later l-story integral rear ell are constructed of unpainted rockface hollow concrete block. The hollow concrete building is joined at its back wall to a truncated frame building that antedates the c. 1922 structure. A shed addition runs across the back of the frame structure. A "connecting" room stands between the shed addition and the house; it was not possible to determine if this small link is associated with the construction of the original house or the shed, or is independent of both building efforts. Neither the concrete block nor frame portions of the building display stylistic references. While the frame building retains much of its original exterior fabric, its interior has been modified. The concrete block structure retains most of its original exterior and interior architectural fabric and details, which strengthens the integrity of setting and association. The nominated acreage of approximately 0.1 acre encompasses only the market building and its associated lawn.


Unobtrusively sited between two early 20th-century frame dwellings, the Progressive Market faces White River Junction's South Main Street. The building is set back from the street and shares the same front lot line as the flanking houses. Four - perhaps five - building campaigns brought the market to its present configuration. The original building is a frame, two-story house that probably was similar in form and detail to the frame, 2-story, gable-end houses that surround it. Around c. 1922 the front of this house was removed for the addition of a two-story rockface concrete block structure. The two separate buildings were joined to create a single large structure that functioned as both a business and residence. At an unknown date, but likely within a few years of the c. 1922 addition, a l-story rockface hollow concrete block ell was added at the north elevation. It functions as a meat/storage freezer. A fourth building campaign - again of an undetermined date - placed a shed/storage addition across the entire length of the rear elevation (west). Another small addition (whose date cannot be ascertained) stands between the original house and the shed addition.

Asbestos shingles cover the roof of the building's frame portion; a flat tarpaper roof covers the rockface hollow concrete block structure. A brick chimney, found offset left of center between the concrete block addition and the original house, ventilates the furnace.

East (Front) Elevation
Patrons enter the market through a recessed single screen door and a single wood door (whose upper third is glazed) placed in the center of the three-bay principal elevation (east). The door is framed by single-pane sidelights with beaded board siding below the window openings, and an air conditioner fills the entry transom. An original large single-pane plate glass window typical of early 20th-century commercial enterprises is found to the left of the entry. To the right of the entry, the original window has been replaced by a smaller single symetrically-placed glazed opening.

A fabric awning extends the length of the 1st-floor facade. A molded board, painted green, white and red (the national colors of Italy) runs the length of the building, just above the awning. The extended pole holding the grocery's sign is centrally placed, above the molded board. A row of three double-hung sash windows illuminate the second-story dwelling quarters. The c. 1922 building is capped by a thin concrete molding that runs around the entire structure.

South (Side) Elevation
The Progressive Market's construction history is most easily read on the building's south elevation, as from this side it is possible to see evidence of three or four phases of construction. Working from the front of the lot to the rear: this side of the rockface concrete block portion is blank except for two one/one windows that illuminate the 2nd-floor kitchen. Just beyond the point where the structures are joined, a door sheltered by a small frame gable-roofed porch provides access into the original frame structure via a set of concrete stairs. This portion of the structure is underpinned by a brick foundation. To the left of the door, a one/one window illuminates the interior. The window above at the 2nd-floor has been boarded up. A small 1-story "link" structure (whose construction history cannot be determined) joins the frame house to the shed addition that runs across the entire rear elevation. The "link" wall is broken by a single one/one window. Entry to the back of the building can also be gained through a door in the south wall, just inside the shed addition. There is also a single wood door into the shed on its south wall.

West (Rear) Elevation
The small one-story, shed-roofed frame storage addition extends the length of the rear (west) elevation. No windows or doors break the shed walls at the west elevation. Just above the shed addition roof line, two windows that light the rear elevation of the original dwelling are visible. This addition sits on a concrete slab.

North (Side) Elevation
At the north side, beginning at the front of the building: this side of the 2-story, rockface hollow concrete block, like that of the south elevation, is blank except for two one/one 2nd-story windows that light the bedrooms. The 1-story ell, which contains the meat freezer, is bonded into the 2-story structure. Its concrete block pattern and mortar mixture are different than those used on the 2-story portion, suggesting a separate building campaign. Also, as seen on the south elevation, two separate frame additions are visible. The first corresponds to the single-story "link" addition; the second is the storage shed.


The market interior is a single, rectangularly-shaped room that is roughly divided into two areas. To the left as one enters, or across the south and west walls, wood shelves hold merchandise. Free-standing wood shelves in front of these fixed shelves display additional goods. Refrigerated cases holding meats, cheeses and specialty foods are found to the right of the entry. Wood shelves line the north and west walls. Much of the area along the north wall is given over to food preparation. Along this north wall, moving from left to right, there is a double sink; a countertop; a stove; and an oven. The meat freezer, entered through a heavy wooden door, is located in the northwest corner. The hardware on the freezer door was made by a company named Jamison.

A tiled, drop ceiling covers the entire room. According to the current owner, there is a pressed metal ceiling above the dropped ceiling. The room is illuminated by six fluorescent lights. Floor finish corresponds to room use. A wood floor - 2-1/4" tongue and groove boards - covers the area dedicated to shelving/display; a tile floor covers the area dedicated to cooking and food preparation.

An unfinished cellar runs beneath the entire concrete block structure; there is a partial cellar beneath the original house. The cellar is accessed by a set of wood stairs found in the southeastern corner of the room. A "trap door" covers the stairs.

A door to the left of the meat freezer leads into the original structure. The stair to the upstairs apartment is located immediately to the left. The 1st floor of the original structure has been reconfigured into four room, roughly of equal size. Dropped ceilings are found in all four rooms; one room has been resheathed with masonite paneling. Flooring throughout is 5-1/2" tongue and grove boards. At present, these rooms are used principally for storage of both business equipment and family possessions.

A hall or passage at the top of the stairs divides the spaces of the original house and the c. 1922 structure. The original structure has been reconfigured into three rooms: a room, a bath, and a storage room. On the other side of the passage, in the c. 1922 quarters, the area essentially is divided into thirds. A kitchen and small pantry is positioned at the south end. A living room and bath are found in the middle third. And the final third space at the north end of the house has been divided into two bedrooms. All three rooms in the original house open on to the passage; only the kitchen and living room in the c. 1922 quarters open on to the passage.


The Progressive Market qualifies for statewide significance under National Register of Historic Places Criteria A for its significance in commerce and ethnic heritage (European), and under National Register of Historic Places Criteria C the building qualifies for state significance as as a representative example of a distinctive - and swiftly disappearing - commercial building type, the neighborhood store. Built C 1922 and operated since that date by members of White River Junction's Italian community, the Progressive Market has served as both grocery and gathering place for what was once a thriving Italian neighborhood. The structure's period of significance, 1922-1945, identifies its place as a focal commercial and social establishment for the White River Junction's South Main Street Italian community.

The Progressive Market represents another stage in Vermont's commercial history, specifically the development of the village store. This traditional business type dates from the closing decades of the 18th century, when entrepreneurs opened general merchandise stores in small industrial or mill villages throughout the state (see for example, VDHP, Historic Architecture of Addison County: 6). While the selection of offered goods changed during 19th-century economic, industrial and demographic growth, the social role of these businesses remained constant. Local populations gathered at these stores, as they continue to do in the late 20th century - to exchange news, do business and gather with friends - as well as pick up a few groceries. And by the close of the 19th century not only the stores' stock had changed, but one was likely to find one of the state's newest immigrants from Italy, Ireland or Sweden behind the counter.

At the turn of the 20th century, a sizable number of Italians settled in White River Junction. While most found work in the town's sprawling railyards, others like Sabino Romano who arrived in the Upper Valley in 1899, opened food markets. His daughter, Jessamena Romano Orizzonto, described her father's business.

"When my father first came here, he worked on the railroad for awhile. Then he opened a little fruit store on South Main Street across from where the American Legion Building is now. He sold fruit, candy, vegetables, cigars and ice cream and he also peddled by truck. He went to Fairlee, Lake Morey, Lebanon, Wilder, Hartford, Bridgewater and Woodstock (Rising, "From Italy to to White River Junction, VT": 78).
Oral histories collected by Rising document other White River Junction Italian shop owners who also peddled their wares in surrounding villages while conducting business from their South Main Street address. Amelia Guarino Terino, daughter of Raffaele and Virginia Guarino, the Progressive Market's second owners (who operated under the name Guarino's Market), ran the business with her husband for 21 years. In her oral account Terino sheds light on the market's status as an important local social institution. She recalled, ~It was a family store. Sometimes people would come in only to visit and even if there was no business we stayed open anyway, just to talk. We stayed open from seven in the morning to eleven at night" (Rising, "From Italy to to White River Junction, VT": 93).

Ralph "Babe" Falzarano, Sr. and his business partner Fred Gobeille purchased Guarino's Store in 1946. They renamed the business the "Progressive Market," although many in the community knew it familiarly as "Falzarano's." Ralph Falzarano, Sr., became the sole owner and operated it until his death in November 1994. In the fall of 1994 the present proprietor, and estate heir Ralph Falzarano, Jr., renamed the store "Falzarano's Progressive Market, Italian Deli and Specialties." While the South Main Street Italian community has dissipated, Falzarano's Progressive Market remains a neighborhood store and gathering place for those who live in White River Junction's south end.

Ethnic Heritage
The earliest Italian immigrants to Vermont arrived in 1882 and settled in Proctor (then known as Sutherland Falls). Five experienced stone carvers from Carrara were the first to resettle, and they were essentially "recruited" by the Vermont Marble Company because of their professional skills (Tomasi, "The Italian Story in VT": 73). Thousands more followed in the next three decades, with most finding work in the quarries and finishing sheds around Rutland and Barre. By 1918, Italians working in the city's famed granite quarries comprised fully 50% of Barre's population (Tomasi, "The Italian Story in VT": 75).

As Vermont's Italian community increased, many eschewed the quarries, and and dispersed through the state to set up in trades, opening groceries, dry cleaners. restaurants and similar establishments (Tomasi, 'The Italian Story in VT": 75). Drawn by opportunities offered in a prospering railroad town, Italians settled in White River Junction in the early decades of the 20th century in sufficient numbers to support the local publication of an Italian-language newspaper, L'Informatore del Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The history of Vermont's Italian immigrants remains little charted. Oral histories gathered by Mary Rising in 1986 provide much of what is known about the early 20th century Italian community in White River Junction (Rising, "From Italy to to White River Junction, VT"). These stories suggest that most of the town's early Italian immigrants arrived during the first decade of the twentieth century. Many found employment with the railroad; others took jobs with the locally-based Twin State Fruit Company or Smith and Sons, a candy enterprise. A handful of the newly-arrived Italians opened restaurants or groceries. Dominic Izzo, and his two business partners, Dominic and Domenico Falzarano ran a silent-movie theater that stood on the site where Lena's Lunch is located (Rising, "From Italy to to White River Junction, VT": 41).

White River Junction's Italian community clustered along South Main Street, perhaps drawn to the location because of the presence of St. Anthony's Church and parochial school. Reverend Magliore Pigeon, the first pastor of St. Anthony's, built the church, and associated rectory and school in 1871-72, suggesting that the town's Catholic parishioners (presumably some of whom were Italian) was of a size that required these permanent institutional structures. Their South Main Street location placed them just beyond the center of town, and adjacent to the railyards that stretched the length of the neighborhood. This track-side location proved convenient both to those employed in the railyards and to those who owned businesses that depended on train delivery to stock their shelves.

On April 29, 1922 Giachino Romano purchased the property, identified in the warranty deed as the Pratt House No. 2, that would eventually become the Progressive Market. Romano paid Smith and Son, the Hartford-based confectioner, "one dollar and other valuable considerations" for the parcel. From the property boundary description recorded in the warranty deed, Romano purchased only a house; the hollow concrete block addition had not yet been made to the front of the property.

From Giachino Romano the property passed to Raffaele and Virginia Guarino, although the date and circumstances of this transfer cannot be determined. According to the warranty deed completed when the Guarinos sold the business, the property was described as ' having been occupied by us for the past many years. . .and being the land and premises formerly conveyed to Giachino Romano by warranty deed of Smith and Sons, inc., deed dated April 29, 1922." No mention is made of the intermediate transaction between Romano and the Guarinos. Raffaele and Virginia Guarino operated the business as a "meat and grocery store", known by the 1940s as Guarino's Market, until December 18, 1946. On that date Ralph F. Falzarano, Sr. and Frederick M. Gobeille purchased "the cement block store premises...together with the walk-in cooler and all shelving for "one dollar and other valuable considerations." Ralph Falzarano owned the store until his death in November 1994. His son, Ralph Falzarano, Jr., who has assisted with the family operation since 1990, has restocked the shelves and meatcases with Italian foods and continues to run the market under the name "Falzarano's Progressive Market, Italian Deli and Specialties." While the local Italian community has scattered and their numbers on South Main Street declined, Falzarano's Progressive Market still serves the Windsor County Italian population, whose numbers are estimated at 3000.

In 1900 Harmon S. Palmer transformed the American building industry when he patented a machine for making hollow concrete blocks. While the technology for more crudely manufactured concrete blocks existed in the 17th century, regular improvements in both the material and production during the 19th century lead to the material's increased popularity. The introduction of Palmer's machine and the availability of high quality Portland cement promoted mass production of the building material. In the first three decades of the twentieth century, houses and commercial structures in every state were built with the cheap, readily available and easily assembled concrete blocks. (Simpson, "Cheap, Quick and Easy": 108-109).

A number of concrete block structures from the early 20th century still stand in the Upper Valley region, on both sides of the Connecticut River. At least one concrete block manufacturing operation, the Hartford Pressed Stone Company, operated locally in the first quarter of the 20th century. It is likely that these various local structures, including the Progressive Market and the Agway store that stands across the street from the market, are built of blocks purchased from the Hartford Pressed Stone Company.

From the perspective of the Progressive Market builder (presumably Giachino Romano) who wished to enlarge an existing building with a substantial addition at the South Main Street elevation, concrete block had much to recommend its use. Most obviously, the material could be purchased locally, and its low price relative to lumber, brick or stone made it attractive to a builder of limited means. The blocks' uniform shape and size meant a building could be laid up quickly, without the expense and labor of carpentry. Concrete blocks were fireproof, rarely needed repair and did not require paint for a finished appearance. Moreover, concrete block was a "modern" building material, and its use identified the builder as a "modern" or "progressive" businessman. And the rockface finish gave the material, at first glance, the appearance of a fine and expensive stone (Simpson, "Cheap, Quick and Easy": 110-118).

Such transformations of a house-into-business using a distinctive building material to identify the structure's new use took place all over the state. At Anthony Salerni's South End Food Market in Rutland City we see a similar philosophy at work. In 1937 Salerni remodeled an early 20th-century dwelling for his business. Rather than adding another structure to the existing building, Salerni replaced the domestic facade with a brick and marble storefront. (VDHP, Historic Architecture of Rutland County: 315; 364)

And as noted, architectural modifications like those executed by the Romanos and Anthony Salerni also changed one building type into another. In both cases, a private dwelling was transformed into a commercial property type, the neighborhood store. These businesses appeared in the turn-of-the-20th-century neighborhoods that took shape at the periphery of a town's central business district. Anthony Salerni emphasized the neighborhood association by naming his store, Salerni's South End Food Market. Certainly such small markets offered convenience, and saved customers the trip into town. But more important, neighborhood groceries, which were unable to stock more than pantry staples, frequently offered speciality items - like the Italian meats and cheeses, sauces, pastas and olive oils found for more than half a century at the Progressive Market - that reflected the food customs of their patrons.

While there is no one model for a neighborhood store, proprietors typically used the architectural language of their larger Main Street competitors, including large plate glass windows, awnings, clocks and product signs, and nondomestic building materials, such as concrete block, quarried stone or stone veneers. Most store interiors shared a similar configuration of a single room demarcated by fixed and moveable shelving, cold food and meat cases and food preparation counters. And as at the Progressive Market, store owner's usually lived just above store where they were an integral part of the neighborhood's social and commercial life.

The Progressive Market is in good condition and the c. 1922 concrete block structure remains in near-original form.


Longstreth, Richard. The Buildings of Main Street: A Guide to American Commercial Architecture. Washington, DC: The Preservation Press, 1987.

_____. "Compositional Types in American Commercial Architecture." In Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, 11, ed. Camille Wells. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1986.

Rising, Mary. From Italy to White River Junction, Vermont: Some Oral Histories. Privately published, 1986.

St. Croix, John W. Historical Highlights of the Town of Hartford, Vermont. Privately published, 1974.

Simpson, Pamela H. "Cheap, Quick, and Easy: The Early History of Rockfaced Concrete Block Building." In Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture. III, eds. Thomas Carter and Bernard L. Herman. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1989.

Tomasi, Mari. "The Italian Story in Vermont," Vermont History 28 January 1960): 73-87.

Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. The Historic Architecture of Addison County. Montpelier, VT: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1992.

_____. The Historic Architecture of Rutland County, Montpelier, VT; Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1988.

_____. "Industry and Commerce: Property Types." Montpelier, VT: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, n.d.

_____. "Industry and Commerce Theme." Montpelier, VT: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1989.

FORM PREPARED BY: Marlene Elizabeth Heck, 8 Blueberry Meadow Road, Lebanon, NH 03766-2017. Tel: 603-448-9791. Date: February 1995.

DATE ENTERED: July 10, 1995.
(Source 127)