Maplewood History: Recently Displaced

Yes, I’m writing again about the now displaced, spectacular, original cabinetry of the Harper’s Pharmacy. Regular followers of this blog will be familiar with the details of this story which I have to think are unusual.

In our story a savior of old buildings, Mr. David Schlafly, acquired one of our premier historic commercial buildings, the Cape-Harper building at Sutton and Maple. A much discussed and appreciated asset of the building has been the nearly original interior of the Harper’s Pharmacy complete with much of the beautiful cabinetry still in the positions where they were first installed.

Since the building left the Harper family several decades ago the pharmacy space had been used for little more than storage. It has been a jaw dropping step-back-in-time for those of us who were lucky enough to see it. Naturally we were delighted to know that a man with an enviable record in historic preservation would be the new owner.

All was well until we learned that the new tenant, the local chapter of the Sierra Club, did not want the cabinets in their space. A meeting between their director, Mr. John Hickey, and I confirmed that. Mr. Hickey could not be swayed. I don’t know what Mr. Schlafly’s position is because he would not schedule a meeting with me.

I’ve read in posts by Doug Miner that the cabinets are staying in the building and at least some of them will be used by a different tenant. I certainly hope Mr. Schlafly will commit to keeping the cabinets in the building. It seems a bit like restoring an old car and deciding to put the dashboard in the trunk. It is unusual but at least the dashboard is still there if the next owner wants to complete the restoration.
Harper's interior 1Harper's interior 2Photos courtesy of Alice Harper and Mary Harper Hall

4 thoughts on “Maplewood History: Recently Displaced

  1. I think David Schlafly really missed an opportunity to make even more money, and to enhance the image of Maplewood at the same time. Had he restored the space to its original grandeur and advertised for a high end artistic or other posh tenant, he would have made more money as well as enhancing Maplewood at the same time. The activities on Sutton and in the park are good indicators that the space, the street, and Maplewood’s upward momentum would support it. I believe he would have had plenty of takers.

    Renting it for ordinary office space just does not seem to make sense when you own a iconic/historic property with such potential. Oh well, hindsight is 20-20. Hopefully David will do as you suggest and when the space is vacant in the future he will see the value of restoring it.

    • Well put. No one is blaming the Sierra Club for signing the lease (just losing the cabinetry), it is a beautiful space. Who wouldn’t want to work there? It shouldn’t be used as an office but rather for a business that would complement the high end butcher shop that has signed a lease at the other end of the complex and .the array of fascinating shops and restaurants that Maplewood has become known for.

      In the future hopefully the zoning to limit this sort of use will be extended around the corner of Manchester and far enough south to include the Cape-Harper building. This zoning works! 7300 Manchester is the proof.

  2. Thank you Doug for educating me and other citizens about historically significant buildings in Maplewood. We need to know this information so that we can voice our concerns. This story about the cabinetry in the Harper’s Pharmacy building is fascinating. Beverly Tronicek