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Monuments and Milestones
Round Corner Drug Store
B. W. Woodward moved to Lawrence from Pennsylvania in 1855 at the age of 21. He opened Woodward and Finely, a drug and stationary store, on the first floor of the Eldridge House (now The Eldridge Hotel) at 701 Massachusetts Street. In this store, the second of its kind in the Missouri Valley, Mr. Woodward functioned as the druggist.
The Eldridge House was destroyed in Quantrill's Raid of 1863, where Mr. Woodward suffered substantial monetary losses. The complete destruction of the building forced Mr. Woodward to move his business, later reopening in the building located at 801 Massachusetts Street. Due to the complete loss of his inventory, he transferred the stock from his drug store in Kansas City to the new location. Business thrived when he began to manufacture a cure for ague, a common fever which includes recurring chills and shivering. Among the best selling medicines patented by the store were Kansas Eye Balm, Woodward's Blackberry Syrup (for diarrhea), and Germania Hair Renewer. Mr. Woodward managed Woodward and Finely until he retired in 1897, three years before he died of an apoplectic stroke while visiting his hometown.
Around 1914, the drug store reopened as the Round Corner Drug Store under the new ownership of R.G. Eyth and Walter Varnum. A year later, Eyth sold his share of the business to Varnum who hired George Lowman, a trusted pharmacist, from a competing drug store. Lowman was offered a share of the business and became a partner in 1919.
Mr. Lowman, Mr. Varnum, and his brother Walter, remodeled the building in 1926. All of the bricks were taken down and a new brick façade was mounted on two exterior walls. In 1943, the business was sold by Lowman, Varnum having sold his partnership sometime before for reasons unknown. Although Lowman no longer owned the store, he remained as the pharmacist until 1966 when he retired.
The most recent owner, Tom Wilcox, bought the Round Corner Pharmacy in 1984. With the help of his son and two daughters, Wilcox operated the pharmacy and newly added cheese shop until 2009 when his health began to decline. In April of the same year, he closed the Round Corner Pharmacy, the oldest pharmacy in the state. Esquina, a Latin American and Spanish restaurant, now operates out of the former drug store.
Over the past 156 years this site was home to a drug store, reflecting the changes in pharmaceutical trends exhibited across the country. In spite of the increase in modern chain pharmacies, the Round Corner Pharmacy continued as a unique, small, locally owned and operated store valued by Lawrence residents.