Built in 1865 by Neil Wade, and later owned by Benjamin O. Wade, the building was acquired by Willis Jefferson Buzby and his wife Myrtle in 1895. Upon Buzby’s death in 1939, his son, Willis Jonathan Buzby (Jack) and his wife Katie (Katherine Ritzendollar) took over the store. Jack continued with the title “King of the Piney’s”. The Buzby’s sold the store in 1967. After this a series of owners operated the store until it was sold at a tax sale. Assignment of the tax lien was purchased by Barnegat Light Press, Inc in 1996. After foreclosure was completed, restoration and renovation began.
During restoration it was learned that the original building did not include the one story section on the south side. This section was called the Feed Room because it was the storage area for animal feed. The original building’s first floor was divided into two large rooms and an entrance hall with a staircase. Transom windows above a south side door indicated that this was a rear outside door. Also, framing for a window on the south side was uncovered. The large fireplace, opened during restoration, was found to contain a chimney connecting the coal burning furnace in the basement to the fireplace flue. It appears that this fireplace was originally used for cooking and this room was at one-time a living quarters. When coal became available the furnace was installed and the chimney placed in the fireplace. The screened porch in the north side originally extended across the room to be used as a gift shop. At some time this porch was enclosed and made into part of the west room (gift shop). It is not known if the east room was originally used as a store before the building was purchased by the Buzby’s. At one time it served as the General Store and Restaurant.
The Buzby families served the community in many ways, particularly as a source of food stuffs, kerosene, gasoline, hardware, gunning supplies, animal feed and, at one time, as the Post Office (1934). During the great depression, the Buzbys aided many in the community.
Buzby’s was remodeled in 1920. The large window and a new corner door were installed. In 1921, Esso gasoline was sold at the store, as was kerosene. In 1972, the second floor of the store was remodeled. It is not known when the bathroom and kitchen were installed on this floor. The second floor originally contained four rooms, all used as bedrooms. During remodeling, walls were paneled with luan plywood and the yellow pine floor boards covered with carpeting. Hot water baseboard heat was installed.
In 1978 the new owners rebuilt the one story south section, the Feed Room, added a second bathroom and upgraded the septic system. The store continued to flourish, supplying residents with the necessities of life. After a series of owners, the store deteriorated and finally closed in 1992. Furnishings except for the candy counter were sold at auction. The candy counter is now restored and has a prominent place in Buzby’s.
During the recent restoration, evidence of a second staircase was uncovered on the east wall. The stairs to the basement were removed during the renovation. The stairs to the second floor had been removed at an unknown time. Today the store, restored to its earlier splendor, will consist of a coffee shop and The Cheshire Cat, a gift shop serving primarily as a Pinelands resource center, offering books, art, foods, and crafts related to the Pine Barrens. The second floor consists of an apartment. During the restoration and remodeling of Buzby’s Chatsworth General Store, the original character of the building was retained while providing facilities to again serve the community.
The garage/workshop next to the store burned in 1996. Today it was been replaced by a new red barn serving as a garage and storage area.