At one time in the core of Downtown Washington there were five pharmacies — with the anchor store for many decades being Schroeder Drugs at Second and Elm streets. That will change later this year when Schroeder Drugs moves to a location on Fifth Street, known as the Stumpe property. A new building will house Schroeder Drugs.
The intersection of Second and Elm and adjoining properties won’t seem the same when Schroeder Drugs moves.
The drugstore was located on the first floor of the Second and Elm building. Other parts of the building were rented for various uses, including doctor’s offices on the second floor. The building probably will be sold, according to the present owners, Pharmax Partners Inc., the company that is constructing the new building and owner of Schroeder Drugs.
The five pharmacies that were located downtown in various years were Schroeder, Kropp, Gallenkemp, Harris and Kuhlmann.
Seniors remember Schroeder Drugs in particular because it was a popular place for milkshakes, other drinks, snacks and at one time there was a lunch counter. The man probably most remembered from Schroeder Drugs was Elmer Heidmann, who was a pharmacist and part owner of Schroeder. Elmer was a civic leader, especially with the Civic Industrial Corporation and 353 Redevelopment Corporation. He also was active in many other activities, including serving on the school board and church committees. We remember when Elmer was in the Navy during World War II and he would help out at the drugstore, even in his uniform when on leave. Other pharmacists well known were Bo Esser, Ken Filla, Bill Verdine and then there was Eddie Alfermann, who worked on the retail side.
Another memory is when Shroeder Drugs had a fire in 1945, which destroyed the building. The drugstore moved to a temporary location in a building at the southeast corner of Main and Elm streets.
The drugstore had many customers from students in the grade and high schools at St. Francis Borgia Parish. Its location across the street from St. Francis Borgia Church resulted in traffic from the church. It was a popular place for students.
Over the years Schroeder Drugs expanded, offering many retail items. It once fitted people for hearing aids. It has been a landmark in the core of the city — a meeting place, a place to go after parish meetings and Masses at the church.
Now there are many pharmacies in town, including the large retailer, Walgreens, and at the hospital, which has pharmacies in its two doctor buildings. Retail stores also have retail pharmacies. There is a lot of competition in the drug business.
Schroeder Drugs dates back to 1927 when E. L. Schroeder of New Haven bought the Baumann Drugstore at Second and Elm streets. E. L. Schroeder died in 1957.
The Second and Elm streets intersection once was a busy hub at the core of the city. The times change and so does the traffic.