Historic businesses in every state

Written by:
August 29, 2020
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Historic businesses in every state

Take a look down any Main Street in America and you’re bound to see storefronts of relatively new businesses. Around one-third of the country's small businesses, defined as those with fewer than 500 employees, are less than 5 years old, while more than half of all small businesses have been around less than a decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Dynamic Statistics.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most businesses fail not long after they open. One in five companies go out of business within their first year and only around 33% of them survive at least a decade. Companies disappear all the time—so what’s the secret to creating a business that lasts for decades or even centuries to come?

To find out, Stacker took a look at some of the oldest businesses in America. We looked at news reports, roundups, historical records, and company websites to see which companies have been around the longest in every state. The youngest of the oldest businesses turned out to be a youthful 128 years old, while the most senior of the bunch has been around for more than four centuries—longer than the United States itself.

The research uncovered interesting clues about what gives a business staying power, despite major fires, economic disruptions, natural disasters, and technological advancements. Many companies on this list serve basic wants and needs that never change—like a funeral home in Tennessee, which started off as a cabinet shop that also crafted caskets, before fully transitioning into the death care industry. Several of the oldest businesses have stayed in the same family for centuries—Connecticut’s oldest business is now in the hands of its 12th generation. And some maintain that distinctive character of yesteryear, giving new customers a chance to travel back in time with a visit—just take a look up at the ceiling of Arizona’s oldest business to see bullet holes from what was perhaps a night of drunken cowboy revelry.

These businesses have bucked less-than-optimistic survival trends through a mix of hard work, innovation, and dumb luck. Click through to discover some of the oldest businesses in the United States, and how the historic business we featured from your state compares with others on the list.

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Alabama

Bromberg’s, a jewelry store with locations in Birmingham and Mountain Brook, Alabama, has been open since 1836. It’s considered to be among the oldest family-owned companies in the U.S. Its first store, which was located in Mobile, was burned down in the Great Fire of 1839.

 

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Alaska Commercial Company // Wikimedia Commons

Alaska

The Alaska Commercial Company can trace its roots back to 1776, when Catherine the Great gave the Russian American Trading Company the right to exchange goods and services for valuables, like fur and gold, in trading posts in the area. A couple of San Francisco merchants bought the company and gave the business its current name in 1867, after the U.S. bought Alaska. It now runs a chain of grocery and general stores throughout the state.

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Marine 69-71 // Wikimedia Commons

Arizona

The Palace Restaurant and Saloon has been around longer than Arizona has been a state. The cowboy bar in Prescott first opened in 1877. If you visit, be sure to look up at the pressed tin ceiling, where you can spot real bullet holes that probably resulted from a drunken celebration, according to Scott Craven of The Republic.

Other historic businesses: Arizona Daily Star Newspaper (1877), Wells Fargo & Co. Financial services (1877)

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Nicola Forenza // Shuttersrock

Arkansas

When Robert Crittenden and Chester Ashley formed a partnership to practice law in 1820, they likely had no idea they’d be founding what would become the oldest business in Arkansas, Rose Law Firm. The law firm once counted former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a member.

 

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The Erica Chang // Wikimedia Commons

California

The year 1849 marked the founding of three of California’s oldest businesses: Ducommun, a general store that’s now an aerospace and defense manufacturer; Tadich Grill, the oldest continuously-run restaurant in the state; and Boudin French Bakery, which produces sourdough bread in San Francisco.

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Traveller70 // Shutterstock

Colorado

San Luis, Colorado, is home to the state’s oldest business: R&R Market. The store, which offers general merchandise and groceries, has been run out of the same adobe brick building since 1857.

 

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Syda Productions // Shutterstock

Connecticut

Established in Orange, Connecticut, in 1639, the family-run Field View Farm is still going strong in its 12th generation. The roadside stand offers farm-fresh dairy products, veggies, ice cream, and heavy farm equipment.

 

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Michael Vi // Shutterstock

Delaware

DuPont, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, is also one of Delaware’s most historic businesses, at 218 years old. The company, which was founded in 1802, is known for its polymers (including Teflon and Lycra), refrigerants, and synthetic pigments.

Another historic business: Jessop's Tavern (1724)

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Infrogmation // Wikimedia Commons

Florida

Pensacola Hardware Co. has the title of the oldest business in Florida. Established in 1851, the full-service hardware store in Pensacola has survived a fire, location changes, and shifts in ownership in its nearly 170 years in business.

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Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) // Wikimedia Commons

Georgia

The Pirates' House started as an inn for seafarers in Savannah, Georgia, in 1753. It quickly became the go-to spot for pirates and sailors to socialize. Now, it’s a family-friendly restaurant that serves Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes, crab dip, and corn fritters.

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Hawaii Digital Newspaper Program UH Manoa Library // Flickr

Hawaii

There have been a lot of twists and turns during Amfac, Inc.’s 171 years in operation. The oldest business in Hawaii, which now operates under the name Kaanapali Land Management Corp., began as a dry good store and sugar company in 1849 and has since evolved into a coffee farm and land developer.

 

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Melanie Hobson // Shutterstock

Idaho

Joyce Livestock Co. has been raising cattle and pigs in Idaho since 1865. The 11,000-acre ranch has been in the same family for five generations.

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Illinois

Chicago’s elite have turned to C.D. Peacock for their jewelry needs since 1837. The oldest business in Illinois, it has counted Mick Jagger, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Marshall Field among its glitzy clientele.

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Indiana

After 173-year-old Danner’s Hardware was sold in 2010, Register Publications seized the title of Indiana’s oldest business. It’s been printing the news since 1836 and runs a number of newspapers and guides.

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Joe Schallan // Wikimedia Commons

Iowa

If you find yourself craving comfort food and homemade pie on a trip to Balltown, Iowa, head to Breitbach’s Country Dining. The restaurant has been serving country-fried culinary delights since 1852, making it the oldest business in the state. It’s still in its original location, albeit in a new building after two fires burned the original structure to the ground in the late 2000s.

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Syda Productions // Shutterstock

Kansas

Davis Funeral Chapel has been serving Kansas families since 1855. Located in Leavenworth, the family-run funeral chapel contains the town’s only on-site crematory operated by licensed professionals.

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monticello // Shutterstock

Kentucky

Kentucky’s oldest business has made its way into bars around the world. Jim Beam has distilled fine Kentucky bourbon in Clermont since 1795. While the company initially required customers to bring their own jugs if they wanted whiskey, it started bottling its booze for national sale under the brand Old Tub in 1880.

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Andriy Blokhin // Shutterstock

Louisiana

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is not just the oldest business in Louisiana—it’s also the oldest building used as a bar in the country. The historic watering hole in New Orleans started serving pirates in 1772 and has since become a hangout for the local gay community.

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Lewis Directed Films // Shutterstock

Maine

Considered one of the oldest hotels in America, the Seaside Inn has been a vacation destination in Kennebunk Beach, Maine, since 1667. It’s been owned by the Gooch family throughout its history.

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Jyothis // Wikimedia Commons

Maryland

Visitors to Annapolis, Maryland, can drink in the same bar as the founding fathers at Middleton Tavern, which was founded in 1750. The walls of the Georgian building are lined with historic treasures, like Civil War muskets, classic paintings of local landscapes, and antique Naval Academy uniforms.

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A. L. Spangler // Shutterstock

Massachusetts

Barker’s Farm Stand in North Andover, Massachusetts, has been harvesting and selling locally-grown fruits and vegetables since 1642. The Barker family has kept the farm running since it was founded.

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Michigan

While New Hudson Inn and Old Tavern Inn are occasionally referred to as the oldest businesses in Michigan, George Jerome & Co. has them both beat by a few years. The civil engineering firm in Detroit traces its history back to 1828.

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ART STOCK CREATIVE // Shutterstock

Minnesota

Fred W. Radde & Sons, the oldest business in Minnesota, has been hosting lively auctions since 1886. Despite a rise in online auctions, the company’s in-person events are still going strong.

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TexasExplorer98 // Flickr

Mississippi

Over the years since it was built in Natchez, Mississippi, around 1789, King’s Tavern has been a tavern, an inn, and even a post office, before reverting back to its restaurant roots in recent years. Rumor has it that the building is haunted by the spirit of the founder’s mistress.

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briantium // Shutterstock

Missouri

Head to the basement of Weston Brewing Company in Weston, Missouri, to find the state’s oldest business: O’Malley’s 1842 Pub. For 178 years (and counting!), it’s been a spirited neighborhood bar with live entertainment.

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Olivier Le Queinec // Shutterstock

Montana

Open since 1863, Bale of Hay Saloon started as a grocery and liquor store before converting into an Old West saloon around 1890. Rum and whiskey aren’t the only spirits at this bar in Virginia City, Montana—it’s also supposedly haunted by ghosts.

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Smallbones // Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Florence Mill was founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1846. The historic gristmill is now a museum and local art gallery.

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Reno Tahoe Territory // Shutterstock

Nevada

The Genoa Bar and Saloon bills itself as “Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor,” tracing its roots back to 1853. The establishment contains tons of original treasures from the 19th century, including half the bar, medallions on the ceiling, and a red oil lamp that is traditionally lit every New Year’s Eve.

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catchesthelight // Flickr

New Hampshire

Tuttle’s Red Barn was established in Dover, New Hampshire, in 1632. The farm became the subject of the children’s book, “Tuttle’s Red Barn: The Story of America’s Oldest Family Farm,” in 2007.

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New Jersey

Opened in 1692, A. W. Van Winkle & Co. is both the oldest business in New Jersey and the nation’s oldest real estate firm. The company is based in Rutherford.

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john Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico

It should come as little surprise that the oldest business in New Mexico is a Spanish restaurant. Established as La Cantina del Canon in 1835, the restaurant now operates under the name El Farol and hosts dinner shows featuring dancers from the National Institute of Flamenco.

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sunlover // Shutterstock

New York

Open since 1680, Saunderskill Farms in Accord, New York, is one of the few recipients of the Department of Agriculture’s rare Tricentennial Awards. The farm, which includes a market and bakery, has been run by the Schoonmaker family for 11 generations.

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YesPhotographers // Shutterstock

North Carolina

North Carolina residents have turned to Lakeside Mills near Kinston for stone-ground cornmeal products since 1736. While it changed hands during the first half of its time in business, the company has been run by the King family since 1929.

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qvist // Shutterstock

North Dakota

In print since 1873, The Bismarck Tribune is considered the oldest business in North Dakota. The newspaper became famous when it broke the news on George Custer’s Last Stand in 1876.

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Dave L.y // Flickr

Ohio

With startup costs of just $4 in 1803, the Golden Lamb has been serving food and providing lodging to travelers in Lebanon, Ohio, ever since. The hotel and restaurant got its name from a golden lamb sign outside the building—a helpful marker for the many people who did not know how to read at that time.

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Travel_Master // Shutterstock

Oklahoma

Fifteen years before Oklahoma was a state, BC Clark Jewelers opened up shop as a five and dime store in Chickasha, Indian Territory in 1892. It’s now a jewelry store with three locations in Oklahoma City.

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A S Q // Shutterstock

Oregon

Founded in 1849, Van Dusen Beverages is a bottler of Aquafina, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi in Astoria, Oregon. The business was originally Van Dusen Mercantile, but it transitioned into beverages in 1947.

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Pennsylvania

The Rowland Company in Philadelphia has been helping keep giant machines running since 1732. The company was created by Benjamin Rowland, a relative of a man who came to America with Pennsylvania founder William Penn five decades earlier.

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Swampyank // Wikimedia Commons

Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s Kenyon’s Grist Mill in Usquepaugh has been grinding grain and corn into flour and meal since 1696. It still uses its vintage grist mill from 1886, complete with its original granite millstones quarried from nearby Westerly, to create its products the old-fashioned way.

Another historic company: The White Horse Tavern (1683)

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Masawchak // Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina

McCrady’s Tavern and Long Room, opened in 1778, has a storied history as the go-to spot for socializing in Charleston, South Carolina. President George Washington supposedly savored a 30-course meal at the long-standing restaurant, according to Wil Fulton and Joe McGauley of Thrillist.

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Skylines // Shutterstock

South Dakota

Families have counted on Look’s Marketplace in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for fresh meat since 1883. Over the years, the business has expanded from a butcher to a well-rounded marketplace with a café, bakery, brewery, and full-service restaurant.

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NKM999 // Shutterstock

Tennessee

Once a cabinet shop that also produced caskets and offered burial services, Austin & Bell Funeral Home is the oldest business in Tennessee. It has expanded into five locations since it opened in 1842 in Turnersville.

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Collective Arcana // Shutterstock

Texas

One of the original 100 families brought to Texas ended up establishing the state’s now-oldest business, Imperial Sugar, in 1843. The brand’s sweeteners can now be found at grocery stores across the southeastern U.S.

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Ricardo630 // Wikimedia Commons

Utah

The Deseret News, Utah’s oldest business, has been reporting the news continuously since 1850. The publication is owned by the Deseret Management Corporation, a for-profit company affiliated with the Mormon Church.

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heatkernel // Flickr

Vermont

Since 1799, people who’ve needed to get across Lake Champlain have hopped on the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, Vermont’s oldest business. The journey takes about seven minutes and offers great views.

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Virginia

Shirley Plantation takes the title of Virginia’s oldest business. It was founded in 1613 and still operates as a working plantation, as well as a private residence, a National Historic Landmark, and a state landmark.

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Adam W. Ritchey // Wikimedia Commons

Washington

Hotel de Haro in Roche Harbor, Washington, was built in 1886. The historic hotel still maintains its old-fashioned character, including shared bathrooms for most of the rooms.

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Kberg115 // Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia

After White Sulphur Springs gained popularity as a trendy social resort in the mid-19th century, it constructed West Virginia’s first large hotel, The Greenbrier, in 1858. The luxurious 11,000-acre property has hosted many U.S. presidents over the years.

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Master1305 // Shutterstock

Wisconsin

Founded in 1845, Minhas Craft Brewery is the oldest business in Wisconsin and one of the most historic breweries in the country. The brewery produces old-fashioned sodas in addition to craft beer.

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Jimmywayne // Flickr

Wyoming

Miners and Stockmen’s Steakhouse and Spirits, located in Hartville, Wyoming, has been in business since 1862. The bar was once a hiding spot for bank robbers and other outlaws, according to Rick Roddam of KingFM.

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