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Weller's Pharmacy: 1915

Weller's Pharmacy: 1915

Washington, D.C., circa 1915. "Weller's drug store, Eighth & I streets S.E." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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re: I may have four of those stools

Here are the patents for Linda's folding stools. They are a little different than the ones in the photo, which have a single, s-curved support pedestal and what looks like a different spring-loaded locking mechanism. Yours are described in the patent specifications as being "particularly designed for use in connection with store counters", not trolley cars.,789,931

I may have four of those stools

This is exciting! I have four similarly spring-loaded stools, which were described to me as being trolley seats at the time I purchased them. The era of the casting looks about right. (The wooden seats on mine appear to have been replaced.)

Anyone got a guess, or (gasp) knowledge? Are these something like jump seats for a trolley, or more likely to be for sitting at the counter having a soda?

Even if I learn nothing else, I've now got an image that confirms how/where to install these things!

Two convenient locations

Eventually Frank Weller had two pharmacies, at 755 Eighth Street SE and 3534 M Street NW. Click to embiggen.

Frank P. Weller

The 1900 and 1910 census records show Frank P. Weller and family living above his store at 753 8th st S.E. In the 1920s Weller teamed with druggist Thomas A. Moskey and the business began to be advertised as "Weller & Moskey Pharmacy." F.P. Weller is buried several blocks east of his pharmacy at the Congressional Cemetery (link to PDF of Congressional Cemetery record).

I don't know what kind of store $350 could have built in 1890. The Capitol Hill Restoration Society database of building permits lists an August 31, 1892 permit for a $16,000 brick dwelling at 753 8th st SE.

Washington Post, Sep 3, 1890

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued yesterday:

F.P. Weller, one brick store, at No. 753 Eighth street southeast, to cost $350.

Washington Post, Mar 28, 1933

Franklin P. Weller Services Are Today

Retired Pharmacist, Native of Maryland,
Was Once in U.S. Navy

Funeral services for Franklin Pierce Weller, pioneer Washington druggist, who died Sunday night at the residence of his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Hynson, 3435 Thirty-fourth place, will be held today at 2:30 p.m. at the Hynson home. Interment will be in the Congressional Cemetery.
Mr. Weller, 78, was born in Thurmont, Frederick County, Md., December 21, 1854, of Revolutionary ancestry. He came to Washington 70 years ago. During the early eighties he served as a pharmacist in the United States Navy on board the U.S.S. Galena. Upon his retirement from the Navy he engaged in private practice and opened a drug store in Washington at Eighth and I streets southeast which has been a landmark for a generation. he retired from business last October.

He served in the hospital corps of the District National Guard for 27 years. He was a member of the Metropolitan Presbyterian Church, of the De Molay Commandery, Knights Templar, and St. John's Lodge, F.A.A.M.

Label Lust

The drugstore photos are among my favorites. They show what everyday life was like through the products people were using. That makes this photo one of the best and one of the most frustrating. There is so much just out of sight. I could spend a day in this store just reading labels. And thanks, Dave, for the sponge closeup. My point exactly.

Hmmmm chocolate!

I love the Lowney's chocolate display advert in the back.

It reminds me about 30 years ago of the Lowneys factory that was about half a mile from my house. They made the "Oh Henry" candybar and when the wind blew just right the air smelled of peanuts.

Are those postcards to the right of the Lowney's display?

The folding seats

I would offer a suggestion that these unique seats, considering their height and location, may have been part of an actual fountain alluded to below in the comments, especially if one imagines that when the seats were originally installed there was no glass cabinetry on the underlying countertops. Rather, this may have been a true counter for enjoying the assorted delights one would find in a drugstore of the time. Without the glass display cases and the built up corner edging, these seats would have been at a more convenient height for patrons indulging in chocolate sundaes, egg creams and banana splits.

This is one of those Shorpy photos when one wishes for turbo zoom feature on one's mouse. So much detail just beyond visual reach.

Apothecary globes

Some examples from the Drugstore Museum and the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.

Woodcarvings and more

The woodcarvings are a delight, I wouldn't have imagined such beauty into a store. Those days the things were thought to last and therefore they wanted good stuff I guess. Make such a thing today would require a little fortune. And I'm not sure if you can easily find the skilled woodcarvers to do it properly.
Amd the stained glass on the door!


The "carved" sections look more like painted cast iron or plaster, not wood.

What happens at Weller's, stays at Weller's

An amazing place. I'm sure I see the words "Sub Rosa" on a box in the central case, behind the jar that looks like a giant Faberge egg, indicating secrecy to "all ye who look in here"? Folding stools on the display case/counter at the left. Did ladies get cosmetic makeovers there? Did people wait for their prescriptions on a fold-out stool? And is that a rotary greeting card holder in the center right rear? Precursor of Hallmark? Postcards to the right? Those cases are more ornate than any drugstore I've ever even seen photos of. A place where money is no object, and the things in the center case are secret!? And I'll bet someone MIGHT have spit secretly in that Faberge egg jar.

Granddad's Pharmacy

Where's the soda fountain? My granddad had a pharmacy like this from about 1914 to 1964. He worked there another 6 years or so after he sold it. It was located on the square of Piggott, Arkansas and it was the most popular place right after school let out each day. The soda fountain was the main draw for the kids. The display cabinets in this potograph look more ornate than the ones at my granddad's store. The clock does say 4:05 and those items in the curved case might be bath sponges of some kind. I also noticed a clock through the far left window of the pharmacy area.

The Great Time Debate

I have to say that it looks like 4:05 to me. With the inset small face showing seconds, the only hands on the main face should be the minute and hour, and the hand pointing at the digit one seems clearly longer than the one pointing at the four.

[As we can see below, this is an approximately 60-second time exposure taken from 12:53 to 12:54. - Dave]

Thanks Dave, I can see it in your detailed image, couldn't see it in my blowup from the on line image.

Gas lamps, no electricity

Edison didn't get his hands in this store's cash till yet! Look at the details in the ceiling lamp in front. No electrical anything in this store.

755 Eighth Street SE

If this is the right corner, the building is still in fairly authentic condition:

View Larger Map

And if this is the same building, it is also where 200 WWI veterans stayed during the Bonus March in 1932.

Waterman Pens

Ah yes, Waterman's Fountain Pens, the fountain pen of my youth! Once, in Delaware in 1951, mine managed to spit out a blob of Schaeffer's Skrip blue-black ink onto the sports jacket cuff of Boston Braves' Manager Billy Southworth while he was signing my autograph book. That was sweet revenge for me, those Braves having beaten my Brooklyn Dodgers to the National League pennant in a tight race back in 1948. What goes around, comes around. The dirty look Billy gave me was priceless.

Your Parents' Drug Store

What a great contrast to drug stores of today. Sometimes its hard to tell if you're in a drug store or a convienience store. Seems our town has a Walgreen's or CVS on every major block, not to mention the pharmacies in Wal-Mart, K-Mart and all the grocery stores.

All the details

Love the retractable stools on the left. Very clever!


Magnificent casework and displays! I can't guess what they would cost to replace in today's market, but it would really be a pretty penny! I love the folding stools for clients along the left side.

Washington Elite

Something tells me this is where the rich and fabulous Washington Elite shopped for their sundries, notions, lotions and potions.

It is kind of near K Street.

It's a Wonderful Store

The only things missing are a distracted Mr. Gower (behind the counter), Violet Bick (at the candy counter), young George Bailey helping out, and the future Mrs. Bailey ordering a chocolate sundae with no coconut.


All quite beautiful, except for the dizzying floor. Any product put in such display cases instantly looks better.

4:05 PM, I need a Carbello.

I think if one was to ask me to describe what a classic drug store looked like, I wouldn't imagine being far off from this image. The tin ceilings, elaborate casework, patterned tile floor, paper-wrapped goods behind glass cases, it's all here.

Of course, I probably wouldn't have imagined an ornate spittoon.

[That's an apothecary jar. The spittoon is on the floor in the corner. And it's 12:54. - Dave]

12:54? Am I not clearly seeing minute hand on the 5, hour hand on the 4?

[You are not. - Dave]

Mystery Merchandise

Can anyone identify the things for sale in the curved glass case above the spittoon? The carved display cases are a thing of beauty.

[Sponges. "Best bath, sponge bath." - Dave]

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