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Looking Back

Updated: May 16

(Editor's Note--Each week, NewportTimes.org will print a brief history of business firms that once operated in Newport. This information first appeared in the Newport Bicentennial Booklet in 1961.)


Croydon Road

Buker Airways was formed in 1948, taking over the operation of the Newport Airport from Dartmouth Airways, Inc. In 1958 the airport was rebuilt with local, state and federal funds. In 1949 Buker Airways received Air Agency Certificate No. 10,200. This gave the airport approval for primary, commercial and flight instructor training.

Many private and G.I. students were trained in this program. In 1949 Buker Airways acquired its first executive aircraft, a Bellanca Curisair. This was the year Buker Airways started out on its present program to provide aerial transportation to the companies in this area.

In 1950 a Beechcraft Bonanza was purchased in addition to the Bellanca; in 1951 the Bellanca was sold and a second Bonanza was acquired. This was also the year that Buker Airways took over the operation of the Springfield, Vermont, Airport.

In 1953 Buker Airways instituted a pilot service for companies owning their own aircraft. Also, in this year the Newport airport paved a 2,000-foot runway using state and local funds.

In 1959 Buker Airways purchased its first twin-engine aircraft available to the public for hire. At the present time Buker Airways, with a staff of 14 employees and a fleet of 10 airplanes, operates the Newport, Claremont and Springfield, Vermont, airports.


25 Main Street

The business known today as Johnson's Ben Franklin Store or Cleon Johnson Inc.,was originally started by John W. Johnson on Nov. 16, 1888. At this time Mr. Johnson bought Whipple's 5c & 10c store which was located on the East side of Main Street, and relocated it in the Cheney Block where Gauthier and Woodard is now located.

In 1895 Mr. Johnson bought the Universalist Chapel and in May of 1896, after remodeling, moved his variety business to this new building. This is where it is still located today. After the turn of the century Mr. Johnson's son, Cleon Johnson, joined the business which was known as J.W. Johnson & Son.

Cleon Johnson continued the business after his father's death in 1926 and in 1927 the store became a charter member of the new Ben Franklin Chain. In 1941 and 1942 the block was completely remodeled, changing the business to a modern Ben Franklin Store. This remodeling proved to be of short duration when in November of 1942 a fire destroyed the entire block.

Because of priorities needed during World War II it was late in 1943 before the block was rebuilt and the store reopened. The store was enlarged this time to include a downstairs store about half the size of the main floor.

In 1960 the business was incorporated and with the death of Cleon Johnson in February, the business has been continued by his wife, Ida M. Johnson, and his son, Cleon Johnson Jr.

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