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Archive for Friday, April 16, 1999

CORNER DRUGSTORE ONE OF OLDEST WEST OF MISSISSIPPI RIVER

April 16, 1999

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A pharmacy at Eighth and Massachusetts in downtown Lawrence dates back to the early days of the city.

Pharmacist Tom Wilcox stands behind the counter at Round Corner Drug Store, 801 Mass.

Behind him stand a long line of pharmacists, stretching back to the 1800s. The pharmacy at the southwest corner of Eighth and Massachusetts was opened by B.W. Woodward in 1855, making it one of the oldest pharmacies west of the Mississippi River.

"It's been operating as a drug store since that time," said Wilcox, who bought the store in 1984.

"I was looking for a drug store to buy," he said. "I was out of school and didn't have much money."

Most stores he could afford were in rural areas, far from the comforts of the city. But Round Corner seemed to be in the perfect location in downtown Lawrence.

"The fact this has been a drug store for over 100 years says something about the location," he said.

Round Corner was built by Woodward in 1855 with $2,000 borrowed from his father. He had come west from Pennsylvania, planning to move to Leavenworth. After a visit to Lawrence, he changed his plan.

He built his drug store at 634 Mass., but that building was destroyed during Quantrill's Raid in August 1863. He rebuilt and opened in 1865 at 801 Mass.

It passed out of the family and through a few owners before Wilcox bought it.

Wilcox has customers whose grandparents and great-grandparents shopped at Round Corner. Running his own pharmacy hasn't been easy, but it has its advantages.

"I worked two years without a day off," he said. "The business has grown every year."

But while he has been working, he has been able to keep his family close. His mother helped with his books for the first few years. His son, Nicholas, found his first job in the store's Cheese Shop -- he loaded the soda machine to earn money to buy his first bicycle.

His daughters Nicole, 17, and Jenna, 14, learned to work the cash register as early as the third grade.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

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