|The house at 521 E. Erie Avenue|
For example, I've admired this stately house (at left) on its large lot at 521 E. Erie Avenue for many years now. Every time I get stuck at the traffic light in front of it, I think about what a great-looking house it is, and how unfair it is that it has to face a Dairy Mart store.
Surely, there had to be some great old house across from it at some point that was torn down and replaced by a Lawson's (the predecessor to Dairy Mart.)
As it turns out, I was wrong. There's been a grocery store at that Dairy Mart location since at least 1905 – maybe even earlier.
In 1905, there was Geiger and Ingraham's. It was followed by a variety of other grocery stores, including East Side Grocery (1912), Matthew Smith Tea, Coffee & Grocery (1921), A&P (1937), and Merves Brothers Food Mart (1942). (The dates shown merely mean those stores happened to be at that location that year.)
Merves Brothers were there the longest, until the late 1970s. Then the address went vacant in the 1978 directory. Lawson's first appeared in the directory around 1980.
As for the house, the 521 E. Erie address appeared in the 1912 directory with Fred A. Burgett, a contractor, as the owner. His name did not appear in any of the previous directories and it can't be determined if someone else built the house at an earlier date.
Burgett remained in the house until around 1952 according to the books. After that date, the house seemed to change occupants every few years.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that a national chain store doesn't always come in and wreck a fine old neighborhood. Often, the chain store – in this case a Dairy Mart – is merely a modern version of what was already an accepted part of the neighborhood for decades.