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 ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin

 

Doerr Drug Store

 

 

WDT - FEB. 22, 1992

    IN TIMES SQUARE

FIRST SODA FOUNTAIN IN STATE

               The other day we ran across an article which talked about Watertown being the site of the first soda fountain in Wisconsin.

 

               It was located just a couple of doors east of where we’re writing this column, the present location of Domino’s Pizza.

 

               The drug store for many years was operated by the late Charlie Doerr and was known as Doerr’s Drugs.

 

               The store was founded by Dr. Edward Johnson back in 1844, four years before Wisconsin became a state.  A year later the soda fountain was installed.

 

               Johnson said in his diary back in that period of time, “Being the first druggist in Watertown and resolved to put in the first soda fountain but as money was an unknown factor and quantity, he had to light up his genius to design the construction of one to serve the purpose. It was made of tin, a cylinder-like percolator being placed on the upper floor, crossing the floor at right angles, up through the counter where it was crowned with a near  faucet.  Two tin goblets each holding more than half pint of solution of tartaric acid in simple syrup flavored with lemon on a bottle of whiskey furnished the luxuries for the thirsty.  The cylinders being filled with a solution of bicarbonate soda - and the imposture passed as genuine and gave satisfaction.”

 

               Doerr was quite proud that his business was the first soda fountain in the state.  At the top of his stationery was the following statement:  “The Cradle of the Soda Fountain in Wisconsin, 1845”, and at the bottom of the stationery is the statement:  “A drug store four years before Wisconsin became a state”.

 

               We remember Charlie Doerr quite well.  His place of business was right around the corner from the Daily Times carrier room and often after school or Saturday morning we’d stop by for one of his special sodas.  Right up until the business closed, he would individually mix the sodas with the syrup and carbonated water.  Quality control was a bit lacking and as a result, each soda was a bit different.  Ice was rationed.  One or two cubes at best and they would be cracked with a little mallet as Charlie held them in his hand.

 

               And, of course, what would a soda be without the world-famous Pagel’s potato chips that he always had on hand and which were made right across the street.

 

               Doerr’s Drug Store was known for something else.  For many years it was a postal substation.  Back in the southeast corner was a single “teller window” complete with iron bars from which you could purchase stamps. 

 

               Charlie also had an avocation.  For years he was a baseball coach for the park and recreation program. He often turned out winning teams and worked hard with the kids.  A victory often meant a treat at the drug store.

 

               It was quite a place, the bantering of Charlie, his love of baseball, and the collection of items for sale from almost every era.  Today, it would be quite a conversation piece.

 

               Watertown at one time had fountains all over the place.  Mullen’s, Tetzlaff’s, Dooley Meyers’, Woolworth’s and Kresge’s, just to name a few.

 

               Maybe some of our readers have information or stories about the old soda fountains which we could relate in a future column.  If you have something, drop us a note or send a clipping in the coming days.

 

 

 

 

1960

12 11          The Watertown Post Office substation No. 1, located at the Doerr Pharmacy in West Main Street is giving special Christmas postal service.  The substation is open evenings and for the convenience of those who cannot do their mailing of greetings and parcels during the regular or extra hours under which the post office is operating, it is suggested that the facilities of the substation be utilized.  Stamps may be secured and mailing of parcels, etc., may be done at the substation which is open each evening including Sundays.   WDT

 

 

Doerr Drug Store

1950, 109 W Main

Doerr Drug Store

1971, 109 W Main

Doerr Drug Store

1935, 109 W Main

 

Cross References:

               Dr. Edward Johnson, Watertown’s first druggist