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Historic Black-Owned Pharmacy Reopens To Public In Mississippi
A Black-owned pharmacy in Mississippi known for doing more than filling prescriptions is back open for business after a 20- year hiatus. Smith Drug Co. reopened on March 12 in Hattiesburg as a museum.
E. Hammond Smith opened what would eventually be a family-run business on Mobile Street in 1925. Mobile Street was the epicenter of African American commercial activity in Hattiesburg until desegregation during this time.
Smith Drug Store was multigenerational with its significance. Students from Eureka High School fell in love with the soda fountain during its prime. And during the 1960s, the drug store transformed into a meeting place for both local leaders and national civil rights activists.
Dr. Smith sold the store to his partner, James Cohen, in 1980. He continued running the pharmacy until it closed in 1996 when Cohen retired. Serving the community for 71 years, Smith drug co. is known as one of the longest continually running Black-owned businesses in Hattiesburg.
The city acquired the property in 2020 and tasked the Hattiesburg Convention Commission to renovate and restore the building to its 1950s design and feel.
“We will be providing malts, shakes, and floats,” Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission tells WDAM. “Folks can buy T-shirts, but mostly they can come in and learn the story of Smith Drug and its importance in the Hattiesburg community.”
Located at 606 Mobile Street, Museum tours are only offered on Saturdays from 12 pm- 4 pm from now until the end of August.
“Smith Drug Co. is a welcoming landmark to Hattiesburg’s East 6th Street Museum District and historical Mobile Street area,” a spokesperson with Visit Hattiesburg tells Travel Noire. “There are many existing sites, museums, and markers that share the storied past of the area, as this was a majority African American neighborhood during segregation.”
The spokesperson adds, “As people visit the restored building, it is our hope that they will reminisce, sharing memories with all generations to keep the history alive.”
After the tour season, visitors will have the chance to book the space for special events and meetings.
For more information on hours and ticket information, visit the Smith Drug Company Facebook page.
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