In 1905 Richard B. “Dick” Davis and his wife, Esther Catherine Evans Davis, purchased the drugstore stock owned by a Mr. Firmage with money borrowed from D. L. Evans, Esther’s uncle. The original sign on that pharmacy building located in the Evans Co-op building on North Main Street said “R.B. Davis Druggist, Rexall Store.”
R. B. Davis hired a pharmacist to work at the store and to train him as a druggist because there were no schools of pharmacy at that time. A person worked with a qualified pharmacist for a period of time and then had to pass a state examination; the exams were given twice a year. R. B. Davis passed the state exam to become a licensed pharmacist in Idaho in 1906.
In 1912 Richard and Esther Davis decided to build a new home. However, D.L. Evans, Esther’s uncle, heard about their plans and decided Malad did not need a new home but did need a new hotel. D.L. Evans called his brother, L.L. (Esther’s father) and asked him to come to Malad to talk Dick and Esther into building a hotel instead of a new home.
Dick did not want to build just a hotel because there was not enough business in Malad at that time, but he did agree to building a pharmacy with a hotel on the second floor and a barbershop in the front part of the basement.
The Bannock Street Pharmacy was built by a Salt Lake City firm, and it opened for business on Saturday, May 23, 1914. The manager was Miles Slatter.
In addition to pharmacy items, Dick Davis stocked his store with jewelry, sheet music, pianos, phonographs, and sewing machines. He also employed a jewelry repairman. Carl Nelson was the first barber to operate a shop in the Davis building basement. Later Miss Florence Phillips opened a millinery store in the space vacated by the Nelson barber shop. By 1934 the dental office of Dr. Lorenzo L. “Ren” Davis was located in the basement area.
Eventually, Dick and Esther decided to consolidate their two stores into one: The Pharmacy. They operated the Rexall Store in the Evans Co-op on North Main Street and rented the pharmacy building on Bannock Street.
In 1944 R.B. Davis sold the stock in the drugstore because he was seriously ill. While owned by the Davis family, the building housed several different businesses, including the State Liquor Store, Sears, and Allen’s Western Wear, but was vacant for several years.
The family leased the building to the Oneida County Relic Preservation and Historical Society for $1 per year for 15 years, beginning in 1992. After much renovation, the R.B. Davis Drugstore building opened as the Oneida Pioneer Museum with a dedication ceremony on July 24, 1992. On December 26, 2012, the Davis family gifted the building to the Oneida County Relic Preservation and Historical Society as the permanent home of the Oneida Pioneer Museum.
Davis, Orpha, The Idaho Enterprise, “Celebrating Our Heritage,” July 3, 1990, p.12.
The Idaho Enterprise, “Gem Community Committee Announces New Location to House Museum for Oneida County,” March 26, 1992, p. 6.