Historical Plaque Properties


Alfred Jones - Realtor - Conveyancer - Insurance Broker
28 Norman Street
Stratford, ON

  28 Norman Street was constructed in 1918 by Alfred Erie Francis Jones who was a realtor, conveyancer, and insurance broker. Jones sold this property to James Anthony Chowen in 1919. Land records indicate that Jones constructed and sold many homes in Stratford at this time including neighbouring 22 Norman Street as well as 319 Ontario Street, both of which hold ACO Historical Plaques.


28 Norman Street is a two-and-a-half-storey Foursquare style home with a red brick envelope and a parged concrete foundation. The Foursquare style derived from what has been dubbed the Rectilinear style by architectural historians Wilbert Hasbrouck and Paul Sprague. The Foursquare style is characterized by its boxy massing and hipped roof. It emerged in the 1890s as a response to the ornate and often ostentatious Queen Anne style. Common characteristics of the Foursquare style are exemplified in 28 Norman Street such as the scant decoration, a hipped roof, and the centred gabled dormer. Cleaner brick below the upper left windowsill on the front elevation and comparison with 22 and 26 Norman Street suggest that this house once had a full-width porch, which is another common characteristic of the Foursquare style. In the United States, this style was one of the most popular in the 1900s and 1910s. The same is likely true in Canada. By 1930, the style had run its course.

Though briefly occupied by salesman, James Colquhoun, in 1919, James Anthony Chowen resided here by 1920. Chowen, the middle child of seven, was born in 1861 to parents Richard and Martha Chowen. Richard was an English immigrant who emigrated from Devon County, England to Canada marrying Martha who was born in Downie Township in 1837. The family settled on a farm in Downie Township and James took over farming operations from his father by 1901, before relocating to Stratford. In 1915, James’s wife, Annie, passed away from typhlitis at the age of 39. She was similarly born to an English father, Thomas B. Holliday, and Canadian mother, Mary Ann Holliday.

James lived at 28 Norman Street with his only daughter Mary Martha Doris Chowen who, in 1921, was 13 years old. At this point, James was the manager of the Stratford Steam Laundry Company located on the southwest corner of Ontario and Waterloo streets. This business began on May 17th, 1895, by James’s brothers Edward Thomas and John William. It was the only steam laundry in the city when it started and was known as Chowen brothers until 1904. At this time, the company relocated from a small Wellington location to the Ontario Street building. The business at 159 Ontario Street utilized 3,400 feet of floor space for the “best up to the minute machinery and appliances” operated by 18 to 20 skilled workers.

Stratford Steam Laundry, c. 1905. The Stratford Beacon Semi-Centennial 1855-1905. Colourized.
James worked at the Stratford Steam Laundry until he died from a six year battle with liver cancer on October 10th, 1934. A year later it was known as Stratford Cleaners and Laundry Co. which it remained until 1937 when it became W.G. McCully Grocery for a brief time.

After James’s death in 1934, Mary Chowen was granted the house. In 1937, she married Stratford doctor John Kippan Fisher and may have resided with him elsewhere while renting out 28 Norman Street to R.I. Murray, a sales manager for Farquharson-Gifford. Finally, Mary granted the house to Frederick G. and Ruth June Heard in July 1944.