New owner promises to restore Russell’s Old Corner Shop, Melbourne’s oldest standing shop and home

“But as to its use, it will be put back to its best and highest use.” Asked how much it would cost, Mr. Tai replied, “How long is a piece of string?”

“What you see is in a way the easy part. It’s the things you can not see, there’s the expensive part … as in the foundation, all the structural things.”

A downstairs room in Russell's Old Corner Shop.

A downstairs room in Russell’s Old Corner Shop.Credit:Justin McManus

Sir. Tai said that since the property needed significant restoration, the price was slightly higher than Mr Qius’ expectation.

“But I think when you consider the story, the meaning and more importantly, the seller that we understand is in her later years, we also want a good result for her.”

Mrs. Russell was born in the cottage, lived most of her life there, and ran with her husband George Dixon a cafe from the ground floor.

The store closed in 2017. Currently, the building’s La Trobe street side wall is supported by scaffolding, and the property has recently suffered from burglary and fire.

Owner Lola Russell, around 1950s.

Owner Lola Russell, around 1950s.

Mrs. Russell was not present at the auction, but her niece, Helen Dixon, said it was “the end of an era,” and she felt it was a good result.

“It’s a good solution and to get on with the property,” she said. “It’s great that someone is taking it on who has the resources to recover it.”

Its future use was up to the new owners, but she said it would be a “terrific result” if the store was restored and continued to be enjoyed by Melburnians.

Mrs Dixon said her aunt’s biggest concern was that the future of the building was secure, “because it’s such an important part of Melbourne’s history. The legacies should achieve that”.

Bathroom.

Bathroom.Credit:Justin McManus

She said she had fond memories of visiting the house.

“George and Lola were real creative spirits. They were both actors and teachers. They performed plays in the shop and cafe and held theatrical soirĂ©es, even when they were older. They were real characters.”

Auctioneer Joseph Walton, from Agent Allard Shelton, said it was “a fantastic result” beyond the seller’s expectations for the sale of “an iconic piece of Melbourne real estate”.

He said it was “such a rare opportunity” to facilitate the sale of the building, and “I doubt I will have the privilege of auctioning off a similar property, or certainly a property quite as unique as this one again.”

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