Thursday, August 25, 2011

Florida Places: Saint Augustine and the Oldest Pharmacy in the US

There are plenty of reasons to visit St. Augustine if you are in Florida, but if you are an herb-lover or antiquarian enthusiast then you won't want to miss "The Oldest Drug Store." For those of you who are not familiar with St. Augustine, it is the oldest city founded by Europeans in North America. St. Augustine's most famous land mark is the Castillo de San Marcos built by the Spanish in 1672. Interestingly the castle never fell, but only changed hands via treaties to French or English.

The city of St. Augustine is full of old world charm with narrow alley ways, art galleries, pubs, coffee shops, and restaurants. A great one to visit is "The Old Drugstore", which is a free museum and also houses a modern herbal gift shop, Old City Remedies owned by Myra Schafeffer.

The Old Drugstore sits at the corner of Orange and Cordova Street where it has been since 1739, built by Antonio Gomaas. The Gomaas family sold liquor, tobacco, medicine and Native American remedies until 1872, when the building was purchased by T.W. Speissegger, pharmacist. Speissegger had previously established his pharmacy in St. Augustine in 1872 in a different location. The Oldest Drugstore is now Owned by the Harris Foundation, which preserves and maintains its collection of medications & tools from the 1700's an onward. In the museum collection you will find countless bottles of castor oil, lavender preparations, a suppository mold maker, old time soaps, tincture bottles, and much more.

Fortunately for modern herbal shoppers, the Oldest Drug Store now is the home for more than a collection of odd purgatives and antiquarian pharmaceutical preparations. Old City Remedies, a modern herbal shop, is housed within the museum. In this lovely little herb shop you will find a collection of beautiful herbs and teas including simples like the antimicrobial, antiviral flower buds of Honeysuckle and anticancer Red clover flowers, as well as a variety of interesting formulations.

Article by Herbalist and Soapmaker Cory Trusty of AquarianBath. Aquarian Bath is on Facebook.