The Phoenix Pharmacy building and its rounded brick corner and windows dominate the intersection of SE Foster Road and 67th Street in Portland Oregon. Prominent pharmacist and philanthropist John Leach commissioned to have it built in 1922 for the cost of $20,000, moving his pharmacy from the south side of Foster Road. John Leach bought the fledging Phoenix Pharmacy business in 1911 aptly named by the prior owner as he collected claims four separate times from the Phoenix Fire Insurance Co. “as he would set a fire whenever he got hard up” according to John’s wife Lilla.
Under Leach’s leadership, the Phoenix Pharmacy grew into one of the largest in the state selling not only prescription drugs but also cutting edge household items such as Victrolas and Victor Records, Brunswick Phonographs, Kodak Cameras, and Spalding Sporting Goods. In 1935 the Phoenix Pharmacy building also began serving as the headquarters for the Portland YMCA community enterprise focusing on organized activities. The Pharmacy which was marketed as “ Portland’s Finest Suburban Drug Store” had a successful run of nearly 50 years on the corner 67th and SE Foster before Mr. Leach retired, sold the business to his partner W. M. Hamilton, and later donated the property in 1970 to the YMCA to sell for a local branch expansion. During that time the second floor housed office space for a variety of business, most notable a dentist who occupied the SE corner rounded room.
The Pharmacy business itself eventually moved kitty-corner across Foster and the Phoenix Pharmacy building had a cycle of short-term occupants including a waterbed store and aquarium. The most notable business was Allen Video who sold rotary phones and VHS tapes for nearly 20 years, with George the Gorilla outside greeting visitors. In 1999 the Phoenix Pharmacy building was sold to a long term Foster Road businessman with the ambitious goal of turning the property into a stove museum and a community artist center. Unfortunately, the dream was never realized and The Phoenix sat vacant for 2 decades attracting vandalism and homeless transients. Thus, in 2018 Foster the Phoenix was formed and purchased the property assuring the Phoenix Pharmacy building will rises once again. We are excited as much as the community to see what this special building next 97 years brings. Stay tuned….