Lost Houses of Lyndale
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3109 Lyndale 1908

Loaf of Bread and a Bottle of Milk

A closer look at Amanda Lovblad's 1908 postcard photo shows a distant view of the mid-block grocery store with an overhanging bay window above an iron storefront that once stood at 3109 W. Lyndale. The dense concentration of houses and many large families supported small groceries at the corners of Lyndale and California & Sacramento Avenues and at Palmer & Kedzie Blvds, as well as mid-block stores at 2856 and 3109 W. Lyndale. At one time there was even a small candy shop in the basement of 3110 W. Lyndale.

Did these little groceries compete with each other for customers? Were shoppers willing to walk slightly farther for lower prices or fresher food. Did residents feel obligated to support the nearest store to not offend a neighbor? Beyond the basics of flour, sugar and eggs, did each store have different items on the shelves?

The store at 3109 was built in about 1885 by Christian Rohder. He is listed the following year as living in a coach house in back, while the grocers August & Charles Krause rented the storefront and apartment above.

Rohder sold the building to Charles and Anna Stilling in April 1892 for $2,250. The following year, Stilling enlarged the building with a rear addition, removing the coach house.

Charles & Anna Stilling

Charles & Anna Stilling. Courtesy Kathy Van Stavern

Charles and Anna lived in the upstairs apartment with their five children. Johanna was fifteen when the family moved in, and helped behind the counter of the store. Harry, the youngest, was six. He would grow up to have a corner grocery of his own in Humboldt Park.

Charles Stilling passed away in 1907. In the 1910 census, the tailor Niels Gregerson and his wife Margaret and two grown sons are listed as living there. They purchased the building from Anna Stilling in 1912 for $4,200 plus the $2,000 owed on the mortgage. Gregerson used the first floor as a workshop and retail store for his vest-making business. Neighbors in need of a loaf of bread or a bottle of milk instead of a vest had to walk farther to find their groceries.

Niels Gregerson retired and sold the building in 1919. The next owners rented the upstairs apartment to tenants who were not using the retail space on the first floor.

There is little recorded about what the space may have been used for during the next decade until an April 1931 classified ad for a business opportunity for sale:

1931 Deli For Sale

The storefront grocery was run by various owners until the 1990s! The building was torn down in 2012 and replaced by a single-family home.

3109 W Lyndale