For many years the Towners General Store was the center of the commercial community in Towners. The store
was located along the railroad tracks and facing the state road now known as NYS Route 164. Walter S. Crosby owned the store
for many years, and also served as the local postmaster. In May, 1899, Crosby found a novel way to provide additional floor space
to his growing business. Two area businesses had recently vacated their buildings, and Crosby bought them and had them moved and
attached to his building. One had been used as a detached storage house, and the other had been the George Dykeman music store.
Both structures were rebuilt on the east side of Crosby's store. The May 12, 1899 edition of The Putnam County Courier
lamented: "The worst feature of the thing is that the number of buildings in our community is reduced by two, and we haven't many
left since the city struck us so hard". This may refer to New York City's aggressive reservoir building projects in eastern
Putnam County which eliminated many homes and businesses. In February, 1908, a large fire
swept through the businesses along the railroad tracks, destroying the Crosby store. Crosby's son, E. C. Crosby continued the
business temporarily from his home. In 1898, E. C. Crosby was also tax collector for the town of Patterson.
The first photograph dates from the late 19th century. (The Patterson Historical Society). The first ad appeared in the Patterson Weekly
News in 1901. By the time the next ad appeared in the October 1, 1908 edition of the paper, E. C. Crosby had assumed responsibility
for the store. E. C. Crosby issued this receipt for a money order to J. V Baldwin of the
Patterson Grange in August, 1913.
In July, 1922, Eugene Coombs purchased the Crosby Store. The Store had been owned by the Crosby family for 50 over years
and had become something of a landmark. Coombs announced that he would expand the store to provide floor space for new
merchandise. His plans included raising the roof to add another story, and building out the store to bring it closer to the
road. Coombs was born in Maine in 1858, and worked for several years as a conductor for the Boston and Maine Railroad. Coombs
relocated to Towners, and decided to become a farmer for health and safety reasons. He purchased a farm on Bullet Hole
Road in Patterson, known as the Arbutus Lake Farm, in approximately 1912. That farm was sold to New York City Commissioner of
Public Welfare Bird S. Coler, who planned to remodel the farm and use it as a "summer rest home for colored people", according to
the July 21, 1922 edition of The Putnam County Courier. Coombs ran the store until his death at age 69 on September, 1927.
Mrs. Coombs, his wife, continued to operate store with the assistance of their daughter, Mary
(Coombs) Imhoff who also was a school teacher at the
Towners School located at the
intersection of NYS Route 164 and NYS Route 311. She married Frederick Imhoff, of Queens, New
York City, and Mountain View Road, who also assisted in the operation of the store. Frederick
Imhoff served in the US Army in
World War II, stationed in Germany. Mary was a Civil Defense
Air Raid Warden and she kept a hand cranked siren on the porch post in front of the store. After
the War they relocated to Peekskill, NY. (Jim Cunningham)
The Towners Grocery is first seen in a 1910 postcard and NYS Route 164 is known as "Main Street". The grocery is again
seen in a photograph taken in 1945 and Gulf gasoline is now sold in addition to grocery items. (The Patterson Historical Society)
Thomas A. Hillis was the proprietor. In the mid-1960s, the store was owned by John Blanar. The ad appeared in the January 8, 1975
edition of the Putnam County Courier.
The building still stands on NYS Route 164, and is used as a private residence.