Apothecary Hall – St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador - Atlas Obscura
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St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

Apothecary Hall

An old drug store full of mortars and pestles, pill-making machines, and medicines reputed to cure most any illness. 

Apothecary Hall in St. John’s Newfoundland is a time warp. Originally a drug store that opened in 1922, it’s now a pharmacy museum with shelves full of antique pharmacy bottles, many containing their original substances, and a fascinating collection of more than 2,000 vintage artifacts.

The antique equipment on display includes dispensing scales with brass weights, brass suppository molds, glass ointment slabs, and cork presses. Patent medicines that reputedly cure almost any illness are also on display, and these artifacts aren’t the only that make the Apothecary Hall such an interesting visit.

The museum is housed in a striking Art Moderne building, designed by John E. Hopkins. He was influenced by the great Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, an outstanding architect, furniture designer, and painter who pioneered the Modern Movement in Scotland and was the greatest exponent of the British Arts & Crafts style.

Notable features of the building include the exterior decoration, oak drug store fixtures constructed in England in 1879, and ornate “show globes” from 1900 that symbolizes the pharmacy practice. The egg-shaped globes hang from the beaks of golden eagles, located at opposite ends of the front of the store. Inside, the entire interior is constructed of oak shelving and counters, and they are beautiful to behold. 

Apothecary Hall opened in 1922 as the Peter O’Mara Drug Store, named for a founding member of the Newfoundland Pharmaceutical Society. The business was operated by the O’Mara family until 1986. In 1987, it was bought by the Newfoundland Pharmaceutical Association, which uses the second floor for administrative office space.

The Newfoundland Pharmaceutical Association restored the building and created Apothecary Hall as a heritage drug store to celebrate and preserve the history of pharmacy in Newfoundland, which dates back to the 1830s. It’s also called the Peter O’Mara Drug Store and the James J. O’Mara Pharmacy Museum.  

Know Before You Go

The museum is only open for two months a year, July and August, Monday-Friday from 10-4.