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Vicksburg History

From the Archives: The old drug store



old drug store vicksburg
(Courtesy of Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.)
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There was a building on the northwest corner of Washington and Clay streets (1222) as early as 1846. In June of that year, Benjamin Hardaway and Dr. W. R. Johnston opened their drugstore in the building, selling drugs, medicines, chemicals, paints, perfume, window glass, and oils.

In August 1848, they dissolved their partnership and Hardaway took on a new partner, Dr. Franklin White, naming the new business Hardaway and White. This drugstore continued in that name until 1865, when it became Ben Hardaway’s Drug Store.

In 1870, the Vicksburg Daily Times advertised that Herrick, the photographer, occupied the second floor of the building and “has refitted and refurnished his photographic rooms, and is now prepared to execute, in the latest styles, all work appertaining to the Heliographic Art. Call and examine the Porcelain Pictures, plain and colored; also new style photographs. As none but first-class operators are employed in the Gallery, special attention will be paid to procuring childrens’ (sic) and other pictures.”

In 1878, Hardaway took on a new partner, Gus Asher from Jackson. This business was dissolved in January 1881 with Asher purchasing the assets and then moving the business to a new building in June of that year. A month later, Hardaway announced his partnership with A. G. Cassell and that they would operate their drug store in the old building.

In 1893, the business was owned only by Cassell and was called A. G. Cassell’s. The first photograph, taken about 1906, shows the remodeling of the building by Cassell. By 1914, Bloch-Hazlip Drug Company operated in the building and it was followed in 1921 by the Chilton Drug Company, with the second floor occupied by Ruth Roth Beauty Shop.

Ruth Roth was followed by the Vicksburg Permanent Wave Shop in 1939. The second photograph, taken about 1935, shows the changes that were made to “update” the building.

The Saenger sign is pointing the way to the Saenger Theater, which was located on the east side of Walnut Street between China and Clay streets. The Saenger began its life as the Walnut Street Theater with the name change in the late 1920s. It is remembered most often because it was demolished by the December 1953 tornado, resulting in the deaths of five children.

Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.

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