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Monuments and Milestones
Leis' Drug Store
In 1862, George Leis returned to Lawrence after serving in the military to find that his former employers, Woodward and Finely, operators of the first drug store in town, had become successful manufacturing medicines for common ailments. Around 1866, he opened his own drug store located at what is now 740 Massachusetts Street (today, Wa Resaurant). Soon, he began to develop a wide variety of products including remedies for skin irritations and household and industrial cleaners. By 1867, the business had become profitable, allowing Leis to ship some of his most successful remedies to states as far away as New Hampshire.
For his growing business, Leis purchased another building on New Hampshire Street to serve as his lab. In 1871, William J. Leis joined his brother to assist him with the increased demands of his business, which had become a supplier to drug stores nationwide. One of the store's most popular products, Leis Dandelion Tonic, was advertised as a cure for kidney disease, sick headache, and female weakness amongst other ailments, although it is suspected that it was the alcohol in the tonic that made it so popular with customers. Leis purchased dandelions from local boys who dug them out of their neighbors' lawns.
Leis Pharmacy ad, ~1880
In 1879, Leis's company moved to a larger building at the northwest corner of 8th and Massachusetts Street, directly across from his former employer. Leis began to add other products to his retail store, such as baking soda, perfumes and flavoring extracts, to compete with other drug stores. Control of the company was later transferred to a group of investors with Leis as the general manager, allowing him to build a new lab and factory. By the late 1880s, Leis Chemical Manufacturing Company had become the largest pharmaceutical company west of the Mississippi River with branch offices all over the country.
In the late 1890s, the investors appointed a new manager and the company changed names to Marshall Chemical Manufacturing. Gradually, the company was moved away from Lawrence and into Kansas City, resulting in the closure of all former Leis Chemical locations in Lawrence.
Sometime after the manufacturing company left Lawrence, brothers Harry and William Dick bought the drug store. The brothers operated Dick Bros Drugs with the help of George Lowman, a former employee of Leis's drug store. In 1927, the business was sold to a pharmacy chain from Kansas City.
This location changed hands several times eventually becoming a Pier 1 Imports. In 1977, a natural gas explosion leveled the building, killing two men. The lot remained vacant until 2009 when the building was completely rebuilt and became a Noodles & Company, which is still in business today.