On the outskirts of Cobourg, to the East, is the town of Grafton. Much of the History of Grafton is related to Cobourg's History - one famous person was Henry Ruttan who was Sheriff of the district starting in 1827. Grafton was a Port and a stop on the Kingston Road but also a settlement of ordinary people. One such person left his mark with the house/store he built, James Lawless.

On the southwest corner of Highway 2 (previously King street) - James Lawless erected the building about 1835 with lumber supplied by William Taylor from a mill in Eddystone. The architectural design of the store was an attempt at Greek revival and is of a unique construction of plank on plank. For many years, this was considered to be as fire resistant as cement block.

lawlessJames, his wife, Augusta Smith and their infant son Thomas moved to Grafton in 1834 from Dundas County.  His store was advertised in the Cobourg Star in 1835.  Along with his duties as clerk of the Newcastle District Court, his wagon of supplies could be seen making deliveries along the country roads for many years. In 1848 James and two of his young sons died suddenly, leaving his widow with four sons and a daughter. His widow struggled on with the business until about 1860 when the young family lost control of the business. However, the store was repurchased by their descendants. Three succeeding generations were shopkeepers in the village. Sam Domenico owned the store in the late 1960s and Joan Nolasco after that.

For a long time after that, the building was home to the Calder’s Meat Market.

For a period, it was owned by Aengus Finnan and functioned as an Art gallery with the name: The Lawless Art Gallery.