The Red Cross Pharmacy

The Red Cross Pharmacy, formerly located at 380 River Street, can be seen in the background of this photograph taken during the 1939 Manistee National Forest Festival. The Red Cross Pharmacy was opened in 1909 by Frank Adamski and continued to operate out of the same building when Karl Herrmann took it over in 1948. Today the building is home to Anne’s Bookstore.

The Red Cross Pharmacy, formerly located at 380 River Street, can be seen in the background of this photograph taken during the 1939 Manistee National Forest Festival. The Red Cross Pharmacy was opened in 1909 by Frank Adamski and continued to operate out of the same building when Karl Herrmann took it over in 1948. Today the building is home to Anne’s Bookstore.

One of the most valuable tools to use when researching a particular building is a city directory from years past.

 Using these directories one can find out the progression (i.e. address, business, business owner) that a particular building has gone through since it was constructed. While most of the buildings don’t change unless the structure is torn down, over the course of several years the businesses and the people who operate them do; with many changing more frequently than others. From 1909 through the mid-1960s, the building at 380 River Street was only occupied by two owners who operated one business called the Red Cross Pharmacy.

Born on October 15, 1881, Frank Adamski grew up in Manistee where he attended St. Joseph School and Manistee High School. By 1897 he was attending the pharmacy department of the Milwaukee Medical College where he eventually graduated in 1900. That same year he also passed the Michigan state examination for pharmacists but since he was only 19 he had to wait two more years until he could become a certified pharmacist.

Beginning in 1902 he began his employment at the W.R. Hall Drug Store, which was formerly located on the corner of First and Maple streets (in the building that today houses River Street Stockyard and Spirits). Adamski worked for Hall until 1908 and took a trip out West but returned to Manistee a few months later to work as a relief druggist for numerous local pharmacies.

During that time he decided to go into business for himself and in July 1909, opened the doors of Red Cross Pharmacy located at 380 River Street. In 1910 a promotional booklet called, “The Salt City of the Unsalted Seas”, was published to promote some of Manistee’s principal businesses owners. The booklet offers up a brief description of the Red Cross Pharmacy and portions of that original account follow:

“If you wish to see a handsome and attractive drug store, complete in all its appointments, just take a peep into the Red Cross Pharmacy, in the Maryland Block on River Street and you will be forced to admit that it approaches as near perfection in that line as any similar store you have seen.

“After a Western trip lasting for some months, he again returned to our city and on July 1, 1909, opened his present place of business which with his thorough knowledge of the requirements of a first class drug store, his experience in prescription work and his extensive local acquaintance, was bound to be a success from the first opening of his door to the public.”

The last line of that description seemed to be a prophecy of sorts as for the next 39 years, Adamski continued to own and operate the Red Cross Pharmacy until he decided to retire in 1948. In doing so, he sold the business to Karl Herrmann, a young Manistee pharmacist. An article published in the Manistee News Advocate on June 7, 1948 offers up an account of Adamski’s retirement plans as well as Herrmann’s plans for the pharmacy:

“Announcement today by Frank C. Adamski that he has sold the Red Cross Pharmacy, 380 River St., and will retire, brings to a close a long period of business activity on River Street which started with the turn of the century. The drug store has been sold to Karl Herrmann, of Manistee. The change in ownership is effective today.

“Mr. Adamski, a leading Manistee sportsmen, plans to spend his time “just loafing” at his Wic-a-Te-Wah cottage and perhaps doing a bit of fishing and traveling. Mr. Herrmann, the new owner of the pharmacy, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Herrmann, 184 Lincoln St.

“He was born here and is a graduate of Manistee High School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy at Ferris Institute, Big Rapids, in 1943. He passed the state board examination the same year and then entered the Navy as Pharmacists Mate 2/c. Until his discharge in 1946 he was in charge of the manufacturing pharmacy at Great Lakes Naval Training Station.

“After his discharge he was employed for 16 months in the prescription department of a large drug store in Highland Park, near Chicago, before returning here.

“Because of its long association with Manistee business and the reputation built up through the years, the store will retain the name Red Cross Pharmacy, Mr. Herrmann states.”

In 1951, Karl’s brother, Walter, graduated from Ferris State with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. After serving in the military during the Korean War, Walter began his career as a pharmacist working for his brother at the Red Cross Pharmacy. Walter went on to be in charge of the lab at Packaging Corporation of America (P.C.A.). He later worked at City Drug Store, the pharmacy at Manistee County Medical Care Facility, and Richmond Drug Store.

Frank Adamski passed away in April 1953 and Karl Herrmann continued to operate the Red Cross Pharmacy until the late 1960s. Karl then became a pharmacist for the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Grand Rapids and served as an adjunct professor of pharmacy with Ferris State University before retiring in 1987. In the following years he continued to work as a relief pharmacist in and around Manistee County before passing away in 2002.

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