Carl's a Greencastle staple for 180 years

April 08, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - If multiple generations of a family count as one owner, then Frank H. Ervin is the second owner of a local drug store that has been in continual operation for 180 years.

Ervin, 54, bought Carl's Drug Store at 145 N. Antrim Way in January 1974 from Edward R. Carl, the third generation in his family to own the business.

According to a history of the business compiled by Ervin with help from Kenneth and Bonnie Shockey of the Allison-Antrim Museum, the Carl dynasty began in 1825 when physician Adam Carl opened a drug store at 13 S. Carlisle St. It was to be the first of five eventual locations for the store.


"Most pharmacists were doctors in those days," Ervin said.

Adam Carl was born in Hanover, Pa., in 1800. He and his wife, Ann Marie, had seven children, several of whom died very young.

Carl continued his medical practice, routinely making house calls on horseback. In 1829, he moved the family residence and the drug store to 27 S. Carlisle St.

In 1833, Carl built a two-story home at 27 N. Carlisle St. to serve as his residence and the drug store's third location. The property is now a parking lot for Citizens National Bank next door.

In 1854, Carl was practicing medicine full time. His son, William Carl, managed the drug store until he died in 1874. Adam Carl resumed management.

Adam Carl's grandson, Charles B. Carl, got his pharmaceutical degree from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1880. He bought the store from his grandfather in 1888.

Adam Carl died in 1891 at age 90.

Charles B. Carl moved the store from 27 N. Carlisle St., where it had been for 58 years, to 6 N. Carlisle St. The latter building was eventually razed to make a parking lot for First National Bank.

In 1916, Charles B. Carl had a three-story building built at 6 E. Baltimore St. He ran the store until he died in 1935.

Charles B.'s son, Edward R. Carl, assumed ownership after he graduated from the same Philadelphia college as his father. He kept the store until 1974, when Ervin brought an end to the Carl era.

Ervin graduated in 1973 from the same pharmaceutical college in Philadelphia and began his career as an intern at Rine's Pharmacy in Chambersburg, Pa.

Ervin's father, Richard J. Ervin, worked for years for Edward Carl as an assistant pharmacist. When Frank Ervin bought the store his father stayed on with him until he retired in 1986.

In 1999, the drug store moved to its current address at 145 N. Antrim Way.

Much has changed in the pharmacy business in the last 180 years, he said.

A customer in Adam Carl's drug store could buy leeches to bleed disease out of their bodies. Everything was made in the store by the pharmacist on simple devices such as mortar and pestles and by hand.

"They used natural ingredients - raw leaves, tree bark, powders and roots," Ervin said. "They ground the roots and percolated the leaves."

The Lilian I. Besore Memorial Library is the custodian of the original "day book" or daily log that Adam Carl kept of what he made and sold in the store.

Knowledge and skills were passed down from generation to generation, Ervin said.

"Pharmacists back then practiced palliative care. "They didn't cure people. They tried to make them feel better," he said.

He remembers his father mixing ingredients for cough medicine in five-gallon jugs and rolling them back and forth across the floor.

"Today I compound about one prescription a month," Ervin said. "Back then they did it all day long, every day.

"Pharmacists today have to know what doctors know when they prescribe drugs," Ervin said. "They have to know where the drugs come from, what they are supposed to do and any side-effects they may cause."

The Herald-Mail Articles