Stedman’s Bike Shop is a South County staple that has served the community in its original location for over 100 years. Yet the story of our building goes back even further than that and includes a rich history dating to the mid/late 1800s. It has hosted local guests & celebrities as a hotel, provided retail space for many businesses and functioned gathering venue for various social & religious groups. Records indicate that the building had bicycles sold out of it as early as 1890.
Circa 1875, the building was owned by the Armstrong Family- possibly the original builder- who operated it as a part of their Armstrong Carriage company. It also served as a shop for Dr. Horace Wilcox, where he made his ‘Fenagen’ mouthwash and tonic. By the 1890s, Dr. Wilcox’s brother, Ben Wilcox, was selling bicycles out of the building.
In 1918 or 1919 the Armstrong family sold the building to a Herbert Caswell. Soon after, ownership of the building was transferred to one Jim Brown to pay a debt. At that time the building was assessed at $3000, and remained assessed at that sum until 1950.
Around 1920, Jim Brown and his son Archie ran the building as a bicycle shop, eventually bringing on Indian Motorcycles, as well. When Archie died of pneumonia in 1926, ownership passed to William Earl Stedman…commonly known by locals as ‘Bicycle Bill’. W.E. Stedman and his son Everett (‘Uncle Archie’ was Everett’s grandmother’s brother) ran the shop in the same way and continued to sell bicycles, Indian motorcycles, and gasoline. They also operated a general store and rented out space on all three floors.
The other floors and rooms served in many capacities for various users including a barber shop, photography studio, A&P grocery store, IGA grocery store, paint store, chain store (big business in the old New England winters), dance hall, Masons’ meeting hall, Mechanics’ meeting hall, the Indian Motorcycle Club and several doctors’ offices.
Dr. Wilcox’s chimney, which was used to refine his tonic, was eventually removed from the building around 1940, and the bricks were used to build a porch for a friend’s house just down the street.
In 1952 Everett bought the building from his mother. His father, W.E. Stedman/Bicycle Bill, passed away in 1955. His nickname thereby passed to Everett.
Everett would later recall cleaning out the basement of “all those motorcycle parts that were just taking up space” before taking ownership. He owned and operated the business until just recently- when he sold the building to veteran employee (and Wakefield legend in his own right) Jim Walsh - before passing away in 2016. The business had been in the Stedman family for over 90 years.