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Quigley's Pharmacy | by Robby Virus
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Quigley's Pharmacy

Quigley's Pharmacy building, 2036 G Street NW, Washington, DC. From a George Washington University website:


GW alumnus Richard Lucien Quigley opened the pharmacy in 1891, one year after he earned his a degree in pharmacy science. The surrounding area was mostly residential. Twenty-one years after Quigley opened the pharmacy, GW’s College of Arts and Sciences rented a residence located just across the street, at 2023 G St., where Lisner, Bell, and Stuart Halls stand today. Before the purchase, GW owned two buildings on 15th and H Streets.


Until 1938, Lucien filled prescriptions and sold medicines, and later sold Cokes and burgers at the lunch bar. More importantly, he was a friend to the students. According to Hatchet articles, Lucien said students would turn to him when they needed to borrow money for dates. He said he was proud to say he never lost a cent. Al Kohrn took over the management of the pharmacy in the 1950s. He also served soda and ice cream to students.


"The soda fountain was located along the west wall, parallel to 21st Street and a few soda fountain tables and wire chairs were arranged on the open floor near the soda fountain counter," said Dorn McGrath, chairman of the Department of Geography. By the 70s, Quigley’s featured a lunch counter, candy counter and pinball machines. History in the making was not uncommon at GW, and Quigley’s was the place to observe it. In a 1970 special issue of GW Magazine, Kohrn spoke about Quigley’s role during the Watergate scandal. "We never had any problems with vandalism," Kohrn said in an article. "In fact, when we had trouble down at Watergate, and the police pushed the people back on campus … we stayed open while they were being tear-gassed and got as many kids in here as we could."


Famous people also enjoyed Quigley’s charm. In the mid-40s, students could find then GW student Margaret Truman waiting outside to meet her father for a soda. Jane Lingo, a 1946 GW alumnae who later served as assistant director of University Relations, said she remembers the days when Quigley’s Pharmacy was still around: "Quigley’s was the local drugstore, and it had a soda fountain on the right," Lingo said. "My friend, Margaret Truman, went there regularly for hamburgers, but I used to go to Leo’s, what’s now the GW Delicatessen." Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-N.Y.) mentioned Quigley’s in her 1994 GW Commencement address. She recalled the summer of 1968, when she interned in D.C. and occasionally stopped in the historic pharmacy. First Daughter Jenna Bush lunched with a friend at Tonic in February 2008.


Quigley’s faced some fierce competition in 1949 when a new GW student union opened at 2125 G St. The first floor cafeteria served breakfast, lunch and dinner. The second floor, the social lounge, housed radios and comfortable chairs and sofas. The fourth floor served as a recreation room with both a radio and record player. Quigley’s lost business as people found cheaper food elsewhere on campus. It was not in a central location any more, with new buildings popping up everywhere.


The University bought the building in 1974, and the site became home to the Department of Geography in the following years. It housed the University’s weather station, a part of the NBC Channel 4 news service, and often appeared on TV during Channel 4 Meteorologist Bob Ryan’s weather report.


The Geography Department moved into the new Elliot School of International Affairs on 19th and E streets in 2002. The building's most recent occupant is Tonic Restaurant, which brings the building back to its roots as a neighborhood and student gathering spot.

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Taken on August 18, 2014