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Hillside Farmacy recommended for historical designation

Friday, October 26, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

There are buildings in this city for which historical zoning is a no-brainer. One of these properties is the Hillside Farmacy at 1209 E. 11th St.

The application for this zoning change was presented to the Historic Landmark Commission along with a lengthy history as to the importance of the building to the East Austin community by the Turner family who owns the property. After expressing their interest in the little-told story of the property, the commissioners unanimously recommended the restaurant for historical zoning.

“I know this building well. I didn’t know the history behind it though,” noted Chair Mary Jo Galindo.

What is today the beloved brunch spot Hillside Farmacy was – as the name suggests – once a real pharmacy. In the 1920s, the lot was originally a private residence occupied by Ulysses S. and Veola Young. In 1949, the Youngs moved their house to the back of the lot to accommodate the construction of the pharmacy building that is still standing today.

Ulysses Young, who was also known as Doc Young, was “one of the very few African-American pharmacists in the city,” according to Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky. From 1928 until his retirement in 1976, Doc Young worked intimately with the handful of other African-American pharmacists who operated within the city.

The Hillside Pharmacy is particularly noteworthy not only for its role in his successful career but because it “tells the story of the migration of the African-American business community,” said Sadowsky.

It all began in the 1920s with Thomas DeLashwah, who was certified by the state of Texas as a licensed pharmacist in 1915. After many years working for another prominent African-American druggist, DeLashwah opened his own drugstore at 421 E. Sixth St., which he sold in 1928 to Doc Young.

DeLashwah was also Doc Young’s neighbor and lived across the street from Young in the Queen Anne style house at the triangle formed by the intersection of Rosewood Avenue and 11th Street. Today that house has been converted into the Rosewood restaurant.

Eventually, when Doc Young decided to move his drugstore closer to his home in the 1930s, he purchased the 11th Street property from his other next-door neighbor Charles Christian.

This close interconnectivity, according to Sadowsky, “relates a significant trend in the history of Austin’s African-American business community, as it responded to increased segregation in the mid-20th century.”

Commissioner Andrew Brown noted that the department comments in the 2016 East Austin Historic Survey said that the Hillside Farmacy property was not recommended for historic zoning.

“I’m not sure they knew the history of this building,” said Sadowsky. “(The survey is) not the end-all be-all.”

Photo courtesy of the city of Austin.

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