Every building has a great story (or two or 5) to tell. When I learned via the Twitterverse that the unique looking house at 47 Arlington Street is up for sale, I just had to dig in.
Its appearance suggests that it once was a grocery store. For whatever reason, that clay tile roof motif was used throughout Winnipeg by grocers in the 1920s, be they independents or part of a chain. In fact, when Safeway set up shop here in 1929 they adopted it as well.
In the first week of January 1922 a building permit was granted to Arni Eggertson for the erection of a $5,000 brick store on the east side of Arlington Street just south of Wolseley Avenue. You might think that this is an odd location to put a store and 101 years ago Wolseleyites felt the same.
A "large delegation of residents of the district" turned up at the January 25, 1922 Public Safety Committee meeting of council to demand that construction be stopped and that this portion of the street be declared a residential zone. The city couldn't do either on the spot so the community mobilized.
March 23, 1922, Manitoba Free Press
Residents created a petition and submitted it at the following week's city council meeting demanding that a bylaw be passed to make Arlington Street from Wolseley Avenue to the Assiniboine River a residential zone. They ensured that delegations showed up at each committee along the way and they finally go their wish on the evening of May 22, 1922.
As for the construction, residents went to court and got a temporary injunction against Eggertson. On March 15 the Manitoba Court of Appeal held a special session to rule on the issue. I cannot find newspaper coverage of the outcome but, as you will see below, the store eventually got built.
January 24, 1924, Manitoba Free Press
In the years to come, others would try and fail to make a go of it. In 1924 it was Getty's Grocery, in 1925 it briefly became part of the local Neals Foods chain, in 1929 - 30 it was B. Wing's Yorkshire Grocery, in 1931 Victory Tailor Shop and in 1932 Roy's Handy Shop.
Osmond ca. 1959
In the late 1930s one man finally found success. Harry Osmond opened Osmond's Grocery and his family lived on-site. His son, Harry Jr., was an award-winning science grad from the U of M and daughter Harriet ("Babe") worked in the store with her father.
By the early 1950s Harry was in his 70's and retired. Harriet took over the store and she and husband Henry Michaelis moved in with Harry.
In the mid 1950s the store became Osmond's Solo Store and by 1960 it was back to Osmond's Grocery. It was operated by Harriet and Harry until at least 1985. The store had been held up six times between 1978 and 1985, twice with knives.
I can't find when Harry died. Harriet died in 1987 and Henry in 1993.
As Neals Store ca. 1925
As Solo Store ca. 1954
So, there you go. If you want to own a house that's not only super-funky but has also changed the nature of the street that it sits on, be sure to check it out !