The James Drug was the longest continuous running business in Ely, before it closed its doors in the late 1990s. A. S. James and town doctor Shipman opened up the James Drug store under Shipman’s makeshift hospital business in the summer of 1888, the same year of the City of Ely’s incorporation. A. S. James, a pharmacist who was convinced to remain in Ely by Dr. Shipman after a fainting spell, partnered with Shipman in Ely for decades. James died in Chicago during a buying trip in 1916, leaving his son Raub to take over the business until his death in 1944. Raub’s widow, Elaine Fenske James took over the business, keeping it sustained until a fire broke out in 1947, which caused extensive damage to the building. Mrs. James repaired it and kept it open until her death 8 years later. Shortly after purchasing in 1959, George Berttula hired Lee Schumacher, who expanded it and kept running the business.
When we first discovered this old pharmacy building, it was covered in half log siding. In order to expose this original exterior and repaint, we pulled the logs down and repaired the stucco. Next, insulation was blown into all of the wall cavities that were previously bare. The original, decorative tin walls were exposed and retained. In addition, we designed and built a new staircase, complete with an oak finish and bronze hardware. The main floor features new hardwood floors throughout, in addition to shiplap walls in the small office spaces. Upstairs, the offices, bathrooms and kitchen area are tastefully complete with turn of the century light fixtures and flooring. Come take a tour today!