William Hiram Murgittroyd was the only known child of Elanson Murgittroyd and his wife Celia E. (Surname unknown). Moving from Detroit,Michigan to Montana and finally settling in Spokane, Washington he was the propreitor of drug store which was a Spokane landmark for many years. The following story is from the "The Pioneer Drug Store" by David Bethman. The book was written and self published by David Bethman and the story is being presented here with his permission. The story was provided by Mark Murgittroyd a direct descendant of William Hiram Murgittroyd.
|William Hiram Murgittroyd, one of the most successful Spokane druggists, was born on January 19, 1867, in Davisburgh, Mich. He entered the drug business in 1885 at Detroit, Michigan, where he worked long hours in a small store for little pay. He decided to try his hand at his own drug store, so in 1891 he came west to Marysville, Montana. He first worked in an area drug store, and by 1895 had opened his own store there. Making a success of his Montana business, Mr. Murgittroyd decided to seek greater opportunities.|
He sold the Marysville store and moved to Spokane where in July of 1900 he purchased an interest in the Watson Drug Co. The firm name become Watson and Murgittroyd. This store was sold to Stone and Sutherland in September of 1901. W. H. Murgittroyd then purchased an interest in the Krum & Braley drug store. In 1903, W. H. Murgittroyd became sole owner of the Krum and Braley store, which was located at W731 Riverside. The name of the business was changed in 1905, simply becoming Murgittroyd's. Due to ever increasing business, the store was remodeled and enlarged several times. The June, 1913 issue of the Pacific Drug Review tells of one such occasion:
"The formal opening of the enlarged store of Murgittroyd's, Riverside avenue and Post street, Spokane, was held Thursday May 1. Invitations were extended to the public to visit the store and inspect the new equipment and facilities. Souvenirs were liberally distributed and tea was served afternoon and evening on the mezzanine floor by Japanese girls in oriental costumes. An orchestra of six pieces rendered popular and classical music. A complete transformation has taken place in the store. Every foot of the basement, the main floor, and mezzanine floor has been rebuilt. The basement is finished in ivory white. Here are located the prescription department, laboratory, kodak finishing rooms and truss fitting dept. The main floor is finished in Honduras mahogany, embellished with plate glass mirrors. The litocrete floor is white and green and the ceilings are white. The interior scheme of decoration has been carried out on the iron work of the exterior."
The September, 1915 issue of The Pharmaceutical Era had a great article on Murgittroyd's:
SPOKANE BOASTS "FINEST DRUG STORE"
Murgittroyd's Pharmacy One of the Largest and Most Complete in the West - Prescription Annex a Feature.
Efficiency, courtesy, accomodation, and quality are a few of the things that go to make for the success of Murgittroyd's drug store of Spokane, Washington, which is one of the country's finest drug stores. Added to a complete stock of patent medicines, drugs, toilet preparations and a corps of expert registered pharmacists who compound all prescriptions, and whose first instructions are "no substitutions," this store has one of the greatest film developing, photo printing and finishing plants in the northwest, with a capacity for developing 1,000 rolls of film a day. Murgittroyd's principal store is located at Riverside avenue and Post street, a prominent corner in the center of the retail and shopping district of the city. This corner has been used continously as a drug store for eighteen years (a long time in Western states) and is one of the landmarks of the city, not only for the old timer who moved into the country when it was young, but also for hundreds of the younger generation. "Meet me at Murgittroyd's" is a slogan whose popularity is evidence of the centralness of location and wide popularity of the store.
The business was purchased in 1903 from Krum & Braley, who had occupied a 23-foot frontage on Riverside avenue for six years and at the time had a pay roll of four employees. Under the direction of Will H. Murgittroyd, who has been 'on the job' all the time, it grew rapidly. New departments necessitating the crowding in of more counters and more clerks were added until physical expansion became a necessity. In the early part of 1913 additional space was obtained and the entire store was remodeled and enlarged to occupy a main floor space of 37 by 88 feet, with a roomy mezzanine floor above and a basement extending under the main floor and the stores of some neighbors as well. This gives the store 11,296 square feet of floor space, four times as much as it formerly occupied, with three entrances and a frontage of 125 feet of window space. The fixtures are of Mahogany throughout, with plate glass mirror paneled pillars and all glass marble based show cases. The present roster of employees comprises some fifty names.
The prescription department has always been considered the heart of the store, and Murgittroyd's has never exhibited symptoms of cardiac trouble. The prescription room is located on the lower floor, entirely away from the main sales room, is well equipped with everything that makes for the efficiency of the department, and is presided over by the best men that money will employ. From ten to twelve registered pharmacists are employed in the prescription department all of the time to attend to the prescriptions and to the handling of all of the patent medicines and other special preparations. Prescriptions are received on the main floor and from here are sent down a chute to the compounding department, where a force of from four to five men is constantly employed putting up the preparations. Dispatch is one of the forewords of this as well as of the other departments of the store. In this laboratory, which occupies a large portion of the basement, more than 225 preparations are compounded for Murgittroyd's line of proprietaries. None but the best materials obtainable are admitted to the room.
Biological products play an important part in this department, and a heavy stock is carried in an especially constructed low temperature room and cared for by an expert. The store has come to be recognized by the physicians and druggists of that county as the most reliable source for obtaining this class of goods. Full lines of homeopathic remedies are also carried and are presided over by one who has made them a special study.
Any description of Murgittroyd's would be incomplete without a word or two about the prescription annex. The annex, located three blocks from the main store, in the entry of the Old National Bank building, is probably the smallest complete drug store in the United States. Such is the ingenuity of arrangement, which after all, is very simple, that in a room eight by sixteen feet is a complete drug store, including prescription counter, sink, ample shelving and draw space, refrigerator, show case, display and wrapping space, and room to seat the customer who chooses to wait and watch his prescription being prepared. The prescription counter and the men at work at it are in full view of every person who enters this fifteen story building, and the annex enjoys the patronage of the many physicians located there and in the neighborhood. This prescription annex supplies a force of three men with ample work to earn their salaries, and is a valuable adjunct to the Murgittroyd organization.
Free telephones and a free parcel check room add to the comfort and accomodation of patrons and the general public in the Murgittroyd store. A free delivery system is also maintained for delivering prescriptions or other preparations and articles purchased in the store. Additional to the big city trade, a mail order department is maintained, which covers a large scope of northwestern territory and through this department many films are ordered, developed, and printed. These orders come from various sections of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and British Columbia.
Aside from having meetings weekly for the discussion of matters pertinent to the trade and to salesmanship and the handling of customers, the clerical forces and heads of department are kept posted on city affairs of general interest, and on the location of streets, parks and public buildings, thus constituting a sort of free information bureau, so that intelligent answers may be given to the inquiries of visitors.
Live wire window displays are considered one of the best advertising mediums of the store. The windows are divided into fourteen sections and the articles for each section are planned out ahead and a record is kept of the displays to avoid a too frequent re-appearance of any except the staple articles.
For the special accomodation of women there is a private sales room with a woman attendant where rubber goods are handled. This has proved a great asset and the sales in this department are large. Even the most timid woman has no hesitancy in going into the private salesroom to make her purchases, although she may not care to make these purchases in the main part of the store. One of the latest additions to the store is the employment of Miss Marie Holzer, a woman
pharmacist who has also partially completed a course in nursing. Young women are also employed in the toilet water and cosmetic department.
Another department which is one of the most complete in the store is that devoted to trusses, supports, and elastic goods. Large stocks of all standard goods are carried and the work of measuring and fitting is done by a professional truss fitter, C. H. Lechner, who has had fifteen years' experience along this line. The patient is fitted in a truly scientific way either in the well finished truss fitting room or in the hospital or the home of the patient. This department of the store has acquired a prestige which attracts considerable out-of-town business.
Among the special lines of goods which this big store carries are a complete line of fishing tackle and equipment, which finds a ready sale because of the many lakes near the city, a line of bathing caps, and a complete line of electrical flashlights, chafing dishes, etc. Alcohol stoves, manicure sets, a line of white and French ivory goods, including sets and separate pieces of the finest imported wares, and also alarm clocks, watches, novelty jewelry and picture frames are handled and are displayed to good advantage on the main floor.
The camera finishing department was started four years ago with two men in it and now, during the rush season, it employs as high as seventeen men and is equipped with all the modern appliances to add to the speed and efficiency of the work turned out by the department. J. W. Stark, formerly a professional photographer, is in charge. The quality of prints turned out is the pride of the department, which also claims to be the pioneer six-hour finishers of the Northwest.
All film rolls and packs received up to 11 a.m., except Sundays, are developed and printed ready for the customer at 5 p.m., and often forty or fifty persons are in line waiting for their pictures at that time. Two stone tanks, each weighing 700 pounds, are used for the developing solutions, and in each tank 72 rolls of film can be handled every twenty minutes. The employees have handled as many as 869 rolls of film in a day and claim that under pressure they could take care of 1,000 rolls a day. The film rolls are laid over rubber wire cross pieces which are moved up and down, thus preventing the necessity of human hands touching the films with the accompanying danger of finger print marks.
The six printing machines are equipped each with six 40 watt tungsten lamps arranged on different circuits so as to provide varying degrees of light according to the thinness or density of the negatives. J. J. Marriner, one of the printers, has made a record of 1,000 prints in a day on these machines.
Will H. Murgittroyd, the head of this modern drug organization, and the shoulders too, for he has plenty of 'push,' is still on the sunny side of 50 years, and has been in the drug business since boyhood. He is on the job daily and keeps in active touch with the many details that go to make up a large concern. He has devoted much energy to gathering around him a skilled and efficient corps of associates, training them himself when necessary to the particular duties and habits that make then valuable to the establishment. Mr. Murgittroyd has outside interest, but his hobby is the drug store. "
Will Murgittroyd desired new goals and challenges, and began to take a greater interest in the Tru-Blu Biscuit Company, of which he was a shareholder. He continued to rise in this company, and was elected president and treasurer of this firm in late January, 1925. William H. Murgittroyd continued at the head of his drug store business until November, 1925, when he sold the main store to the Louis K. Liggett Co. The prescription annex was sold in 1926 to Hart & Dilatush. The original Murgittroyd store was closed by Liggett's in June of 1933. The Loose-Wiles Biscuit Co. purchased the Tru-Blu Biscuit Co. in 1930, and Mr. Murgittroyd remained as manager. He remained active as manager until his retirement in 1937. He continued to be involved in other activites, including Boy Scout work, as War Bond administrator, Automobile association President, and he held active membership in other other clubs and lodges. William H. Murgittroyd died on March 4, 1946, in a local hospital, after several months illness.
Here are some representive drawings of Murgittroyd Drug Store medicine bottles which are now collector items:
|Murgittroyd Medicine Bottles and Postcard Photo|