E.P. Charlton Company, 5 & 10 Cent Store, Fall River.
The Charlton Library of Fall River History
Since its incorporation in 1921, Fall River Historical Society has been collecting archival and library material pertaining to Fall River history, with items dating from the late-seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century. Our holdings, which are ever growing, constitute the largest collection of its type extant. In 2009, the library and archive was designated The Charlton Library of Fall River History in recognition of the Ida S. Charlton Charity Fund, which sponsored the expansion and refitting of the facility and the conservation of a portion of the Society’s holdings. The Fund made an additional contribution in 2012, allowing for further expansion. In 2016, a generous grant from the Earle P. Charlton Jr. Charity Fund made advanced development possible.
The Charlton name is synonymous with philanthropy in the greater Fall River area. Earle Perry Charlton, Sr. (1863-1930), a quintessential “Merchant Prince,” founded the family fortune in retail, ultimately owning a chain of fifty-three 5 & 10 Cent Stores. Based in Fall River, the company had stores in Canada and throughout the west coast of the United States, from Seattle, Washington, to San Diego, California. In 1912, Charlton became one of the founders of the venerable F.W. Woolworth Company, when he merged his stores with those of four other so-called “friendly competitors”; thus was born “America’s Store.”
Charlton and his wife, née Ida May Stein (1868-1957), devoted considerable portions of their fortune to philanthropy, both during their lifetimes and after their deaths, via several charitable trusts.
Their daughter, Ruth Virginia (Charlton) Mitchell Masson (1891-1995), a FRHS member, continued the family tradition and was a noted philanthropist.
The family legacy continued under the auspices of Earl Perry “Chuck” Charlton II (1926-2015), a beloved friend and long-time member of the FRHS; an astute entrepreneur and philanthropist, he maintained a strong commitment to enriching the lives of residents of Southeastern Massachusetts via his support of numerous non-profit organizations. In keeping with family tradition, his daughter, Stacey Charlton, is a life member of the FRHS.
The FRHS is honored to have its library dedicated to this distinguished family, and gratefully acknowledges the trustees of the Ida S. Charlton Charity Fund for their interest and support.