A Wakefield Tradition since 1920.
The W.E. Stedman Co., or “Stedman’s”, as it is known by the locals, is owned by Everett E. Stedman. The business has been in his family for almost ninety years. It has existed under the name “W.E. Stedman Co.” since it was established in 1920 by William Earl Stedman, Everett’s father, in the same spot as it exists now.
The company originally sold and repaired Indian Motorcycles, sold gasoline, and served as a general store. The building had bicycles sold out of it as early as 1890.
Circa 1875, the building was owned by (the original builder?) the Armstrong Family 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 1890’s, Dr. Wilcox’s brother, Ben Wilcox, was selling bicycles out of the building.
Near 1918 or 1919, the Armstrong family sold the building to a Herbert Caswell. Soon after, the ownership of the building was transferred to one Jim Brown to pay a debt. It was then that the building was assessed at $3000, and remained assessed at that sum until 1950!
Jim Brown and his son Archie ran the building as a bicycle shop, eventually bringing on Indian Motorcycles, as well. Archie Brown (‘Uncle Archie’) was Everett’s Grandmother’s brother.
When Archie died of pneumonia in 1926, ownership passed to Everett’s father, William Earl Stedman…commonly known by many as “Bicycle Bill”. W.E. Stedman and his son Everett ran the shop in the same way, and continued to sell bicycles, motorcycles (until 1925), 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 (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, so that the young-ish man could sleep outdoors on it year round, having TB. He did so for several years, winters and all, before succumbing to the disease.
Everett’s father, Bicycle Bill (W.E. Stedman), passed away in 1955. His nickname thereby passed to Everett.
In 1952 Everett bought the building from his mother. He remembers cleaning out the basement of “all those motorcycle parts that were just taking up space” just before taking ownership. Everett has owned and operated the business since, but recently sold the building to 25 year employee and Wakefield legend in his own right, James P. Walsh.