The richest man in Fall River was not a Borden, Brayton, Durfee, Remington or Chase. It was a man who started out with a 5 & 10 cent store – partnered into the Woolworth chain and made a vast fortune that has sustained at least three subsequent generations.
“Earle Perry Charlton, the man for whom the college was named established himself as one of the giants in the annals of chain-retailing industry. He built his company the E.P. Charlton & Co. 5 & 10 Cent Stores from one store in Fall River, Massachusetts opened in 1890 to 53 stores spread across the United States and Canada. By the time of his death in 1930 he had amassed a personal fortune valued at $32 million. He was a visionary, a problem solver, a philanthropist, and above all an honest merchant. He wrote in an article entitled “Mass Selling, an Important Influence,” published in the Boston Transcript in 1929, “That mercantile business would be impossible without…public confidence.” –The Charlton Story
In 1890- 92 several businesses and organizations were the first to occupy the new Andrew J. Borden Building. Andrew’s tenants and prospective tenants were in the habit of visiting him at his home at 92 Second Street, which he purchased in 1872. It’s a very good bet Earle Perry Charlton called upon Andrew there to discuss his occupancy at Andrew’s brand new 3-story structure: The Andrew J. Borden Building at 41 South Main. It is very possible even Lizzie met him in her home.
The first floor occupants were:
Charles E. Macomber & Company
and next door at 37 South Main Street was : Knox & Charlton Five and Ten Cent Store – Mr. Seymour H. Knox and Earle P. Charlton, proprietors.
The second floor (39 Main) was occupied by the:
Fall River Christian Science Institute
Mr. Seabury T. Manley (uncle of Miss Alice M. Russell, friend of Lizzie Borden), and Stephen A. Chase (and) Gay’s Gallery of Art,
Mrs. Edwin F. Gay and Mr. Beno Brodkorb, music dealer and teacher.
The next year, the following tenants moved into the building:
Insurance and Real Estate: Mr. Charles C. Cook (financial advisor for the Bordens); and Harry A. Clark & Sons, Mr. Walter M. Barnes, tailor; Ellen “Nellie” Butler, a dressmaker, and Liza J. Saunders, dress cutting teacher.
Andrew was in the habit of watching his business tenants closely, and when they prospered, he raised their rent. Charlton only conducted business on Andrew’s property for one year – he was so successful he moved into this building the following year. Charlton’s charitable contributions began early but the evolution of Fall River’s hospitals are, in large part, due to his influence and generosity.
Lizzie Borden was on the Women’s Board of the Fall River Hospital.
It was at the Truesdale Hospital where Lizzie Borden had her gall bladder operation the year before she died.
In 1980, Truesdale Hospital merged with Union Hospital to form the Charlton Memorial Hospital at 363 Highland. It continues to expand and is now part of the Southcoast Hospitals Group.
Whenever you read that “Andrew Borden was one of the richest men in Fall River” – it just wasn’t so. But THE richest man was Earle Perry Charlton.