501 First Avenue (now 200 W Wyatt Earp Boulevard)
There are a million resources for learning about the Rath family in Dodge City so I won’t attempt to reinvent the wheel here. A reader asked me to take a look at the Rath & Bainbridge Drug store and I obviously knew a little (having been raised in Dodge) but I had never really pieced the story together because my focus has always been on everything Beeson.
For example, I had never made the connection with the whole Rath and Bainbridge thing. I know, right?! So there was some weirdness with Charles Rath divorcing his wife, Carrie. She later married a Bainbridge so Rath and Bainbridge was initially a partnership between Robert M Rath (Charles and Carrie’s son) and Carrie.
The building in question is at First Avenue and (modern) Front Street but I’m going all the way back to the beginning because I can’t help myself. Rath and Bainbridge was not a new venture. Dr. Thomas L. McCarty opened the City Drug Store circa 1877.
This next announcement surprised me a bit. I didn’t realize Dr. McCarty had moved his store but it turns out his previous location was one door east of F. C. Zimmermann’s hardware store on Front Street.
This is a photo my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Beeson, had of the City Drug Store on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Front Street but I’m not sure about the date. Possibly around 1887? The elder Dr. McCarty operated the drug store while also practicing medicine in a separate part of the building for several years. If you compare the 1884 and 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, you can see how the business grew over the years.
Walter F Pine is pictured above, standing in the middle background. Pine worked at City Drug Store for quite a while and appeared to acquire at least part of the business around 1895, possibly with some help from a man named Amos. Then somehow Amos & Gwinner owned the store. This all took place in a relatively short period of time.
Patent medicines were super sketchy. The terrifying concoction advertised below contained chloroform, morphine, and pine tar.
I found this nugget quite by accident; It turns out Robert M Rath dabbled in the arts.
Apparently, the “vice of nagging” could be cured by a laxative containing 18% alcohol.
This one’s a real doozy.
Rath & Bainbridge also sold Victrolas. Click here for a list of dealers in Kansas. Here is a link to a photo of their sign advertising prices.
Rath & Bainbridge Drug moved to their new location at the northwest corner of First Avenue and Chestnut Street (now the Front Street parking lot) in early 1908.
A new plate glass window was installed facing Chestnut Street and they anticipated the new space would be ready for occupancy by April 1.
The 1905 Sanborn Map shows the grocery store next to open lots on First Avenue. This map was created before the new Masonic Temple had been built. You may also note this map was created before Dodge City standardized street addresses. Later maps will show different addresses for this building. There has been a building on this site with the same orientation since at least 1884, when it held stick-built lodge rooms. By 1887, the IOOF had replaced the wood structure with a brick building. The basic footprint remained the same but by 1899, the building had been split with a storage room being assigned the 710 1/2 street address.
Wait a minute…liquor license applications went to the…Probate Court??? Tell me that’s an error.
I literally cannot even with this one. When my grandma explained how Chalk Beeson Theater manager Wolf Goldstein was run out of town for being a Jew, my child brain couldn’t process the information. Like, what did Judaism have to do with successfully managing a theater? Who ran him out of town? Oh right…the f-ing Klan. Got it. This ad makes me angry.
The 1911 Sanborn Map is quite interesting. The 1910 post card above shows the Rath & Bainbridge building on the left and the Masonic Temple on the right but there’s a space in the middle which would later be occupied by the Bainbridge building. By the time the 1911 map was printed, the Bainbridge building had been constructed and occupied. You’ll also notice the addresses on First Avenue show both the old and new numbering systems.
“He is about 28 years old, and bright, except for his craving for drugs.”
“The treatment consists of plenty of sleep and food and no drugs.” This is beyond parody. Also, if you let me out I’m pretty sure I won’t need drugs anymore. Scout’s honor!
Roy Bainbridge was Robert Rath’s half-brother.
Imagine having to stop by the drug store every day for box scores.
The 1918 Sanborn Map shows the neighborhood filled in with very few wood frame structures.
1921 Post Card, Photographer Unknown – 2022 Photograph by Author
Carrie Bainbridge had been in poor health for several years and died in November of 1923.
Very soon after Carrie’s death, Rath & Bainbridge Drug announced new owners had taken over the Rexall franchise.
And there you have it.
The 1926 Sanborn Map doesn’t reveal many changes to the neighborhood.
Mrs. T. J Phillips died in June of 1932 after surgery at St. Anthony’s Hospital and the pharmacy changed hands soon after.
A & A Drug Store still occupied the space in 1967 but the building was vacant by 1970. John Wilson retired at some point and died at age 81 in January of 1982. It was later home to businesses such as the Corner Café and State Farm Insurance.
I haven’t been in the Rath & Bainbridge building formerly at 501 First Avenue or the adjoining Bainbridge building at 503 First Avenue in nearly 20 years. They have been remodeled into office spaces and I’ve never seen the residential areas upstairs. At the time, I had no idea where I was standing so I didn’t pay any attention at all to the particulars. I hadn’t gotten any good photos during my previous visits, so I took the opportunity while I was home for the concert at Chalk’s grave:
I have a reputation for speaking my mind and I certainly won’t hold back now. The reason I hadn’t taken any good pics of this building or the one next door is because they’re both hideous and good photos are literally impossible. If you look closely at the third photo in the slideshow, you can see a bit of exposed red brick. So apparently some galaxy-brain genius decided to put a lame brick veneer on this bad boy. Look at how deep the window casings appear as a result. Every ornate element has been obliterated. Whoever glazed the windows deserves a beating. Did they not own a level? It’s just so painful to look at! And then the vomit-colored Bainbridge Building next door! The red brick where the National Register plaque is located is from the old Masonic Temple and I…like…does no one know how to remove sloppy paint whoopsies?!? How embarrassing! I hate seeing buildings allowed to rot.
Anyway, I had fun looking through all of the old Rath & Bainbridge ads. If there’s a building or location you would like me to research, send me a message or leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do. With any luck, our Arizona tiny home will be on-site soon and I’ll be able to annoy you with our DIY updates.
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