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The Central Drug Store in 1904 carried many products, from perfume to baseball bats

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 11 May 2019 at 7:55 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 19

ALBION – This photograph, taken on August 20, 1904, shows the Central Drug Store, owned and operated by Dr. Charles Moore Burrows. The storefront, now occupied by Five Star Bank, was situated in the Swan Block on the northwest corner of North Main and Bank Streets in Albion. It appears as though Burrows arranged to have this photograph taken as the store’s employees stepped outside for a quick snapshot. Standing, left to right, are Dr. Burrows, Agnes McCabe (bookkeeper), George H. Noble (manager), George W. Annis (head clerk), and Robert Moore (junior clerk); William Barker stands off to the left in “reposeful interest.”

The Central Drug Store was originally known as Barrell’s Central Drug Store, owned and operated by George Barrell of Albion. Up until 1902, the business was still being advertised under Barrell’s name and it appears as though the store remained under Burrow’s ownership until 1906 when it was sold to Dr. Jackson of Gasport. The following year it was sold to Harris Freeman who operated it until 1946 when it was sold to Marvin G. Sayles.

The image provides an interesting view into the goods carried by local drug stores at the turn of the 20th century. The left window reveals a collection of brushes and several advertisements for cigars and cigarettes. The “Finest Quality” Little Minister advertisement called attention to the store’s stock of cigars distributed by the Vincent Brothers of Rochester, NY. The Cairo cigarette advertisement below, which calls attention to the booming tobacco industry in Egypt; an ad for LeRoy brand cigarettes and a barrel of baseball bats sit outside of the window.

Stacks of notebooks sit in the right window with a sign that reads “Spencerian.” The Spencerian script was the popular style of cursive writing that allowed writers to produce quick, legible notes, particularly for business related matters. Readers might recognize examples of this script in the Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola logos. Larger business ledgers are visible in the glass case inside with an assortment of pamphlets on display. A small sign that reads “Paul E. Wirt Fountain Pens” advertises a popular writing instrument produced by Paul Wirt, which reached peak production around the time this photograph was taken.

A 1903 advertisement in the Orleans Republican displays the breadth of products carried by the store; “The aim of this store is high quality, moderate prices and courteous attention. The drugs and medicines are fresh, pure and reliable. The Wines and Liquors are old reliable stock bought in quantities direct from the distillers expressly for medicinal purposes. The Perfumes are the best that can be produced, both imported and American. The stock of imported and domestic Cigars is the largest and choicest ever displayed here. The stock of fine Toilet Articles, Stationary, Papterie, Books, Purses, Tooth, Hair, and Toilet Brushes is superior and attractive. Huyler’s and Lowney’s fine Candies always in stock.”

The storefront to the right was home to the James Bailey & Son grocery store (v.3, no. 13), operated by Herbert Bailey. A small stand of potatoes or yams sits in front of the store below a window advertising soap; it appears as though a potato may have rolled off the table and landed at the foot of Dr. Burrows. It was quite common for local business owners to display their wares along the street, relying upon awnings to protect those goods during poor weather. The retracted awning reads “Central Drug Store” but also features two advertisements for Hires Rootbeer, the “Best Drink on Earth.” Featuring birch, sassafras, licorice, vanilla, spikenard, sarsaparilla, hops, wintergreen, pipsissewa, and ginger flavors, the company frequently advertised the product as “The Temperance Drink.” Hires remains the second oldest soft drink under continuous marketing since its introduction in 1876, which is now sold by Keurig Dr. Pepper.

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