The Paducah Sun reported today on the disheartening news about the likely demolition of the building at 432 Broadway, a building which has been a public hazard for nearly 3 years and in steady decline for even longer. Though disappointing, the building’s leveling seems inevitable, so we in the Local and Family History Department wanted to relay a tidbit of the building’s earliest history before it’s all forgotten.
There are many long term Paducah residents who still remember that building as a Walgreens. In fact, 432 Broadway was originally constructed to be a drugstore, and that’s the way it served most of its existence. The building was erected in 1892/1893 by former mayor, The Honorable D.A. Yeiser, along with his partner V.P. Wells. As evidenced by the attached drawing from an 1894 book about Paducah, the building originally featured a conical spire at its high point. Mayor Yeiser had already been a druggist for years with a store at Third and Jackson streets, a business which many predicted would fail because it was far from the city center. Yeiser proved them wrong, however, and was so successful that he not only built the grand, new building at 432 Broadway, he became mayor of Paducah.
It also appears that the building not only served Yeiser’s druggist business but also his political career. The directories from the mid 1890’s state that Mayor Yeiser didn’t keep his office in City Hall alongside other city officials, but rather at 432 Broadway above the drug store.
Not long after that, however, Yeiser & Wells sold the building to Oehlschlaeger & Walker, who were also druggists. The name Oehlschlaeger is still attached to the profession today (their name is the “O” in G&O Pharmacy). In that time period and beyond 1910, Walker Drug Store (as it was called) not only served the pharmaceutical needs of the community but also provided much need meeting space. Several local organizations held meetings on the second floor of 432 Broadway, including Retail Grocers’ Association, the Knight and Ladies of Honor, the Odd Fellows, the Ancient Order of United Workmen (an offshoot of the Masons), and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, which boasted a membership of 183 members and a permanent library on the second floor of 432.
We realize this is only a brief account of a small portion of an old building’s storied history, but hopefully it provides you with little more appreciation for the structure before it’s gone.
Do you have any memories of the building? If so, please share them in the comments section.
And as always to learn more about tales of old Paducah, be sure to visit us in the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library.