ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Doerr Drug Store


109 West Main


The drug store was originally established by Dr. Edward Johnson in 1844.

A soda fountain was installed one year later and was the first in Wisconsin.


The Cradle of the Soda Fountain in Wisconsin, 1845,

A drug store four years before Wisconsin became a state” [Doerr stationary}



Doerr Drug Store, 109 W Main


WDT - FEB. 22, 1992



"The Cradle of the Soda Fountain in Wisconsin, 1845”


The other day we ran across an article [WDT, 07 07 1937] which talked about Watertown being the site of the FIRST SODA FOUNTAIN IN WISCONSIN.  [The June issue of The Penslar News, a publication that circulates among drug stores and the general drug store trade, tells about it in a feature article]


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, I had to light up my 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 neat faucet.  Two tin goblets each holding more than half pint of solution of tartaric acid in simple syrup flavored with lemon and 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.



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, 109 W Main





Following the closing of Doerr's Drugs, the building was occupied by an antique shop, pizzeria and a beauty salon.


2017       Slated for demolition








Cross References:

                Dr. Edward Johnson, Watertown’s first druggist





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin