A favorite for generations was the drug store's soda fountain. Credit: FILE PHOTO

Editor’s note: On Friday, Jan. 27, Walgreens employees in Houston were told by a management employee that the firm’s store at 100 N. Grand Ave. would continue to operate from its current location and a closing would not occur in March.

More in the upcoming Herald.

Jan. 19, 2023 issue:

Houston is about to lose a dear, old friend.

Walgreens, the acquirer of the town’s corner drug store in 2012, will close the Grand Avenue location on March 7. It will make the first time since 1866 that a drug store has not operated from the location. It is Houston’s oldest business. Employees were told on Friday. Some preliminary outreach has occurred with potential candidates to fill an independent pharmacy.

Walgreens bought the store from USA Drug, which had acquired the business in 2008 from the Forbes family.

A community institution since John Blankenship started the pharmaceutical business shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, the Forbes family owned the enterprise since 1933. The original brick and sandstone blocks used for the foundation still stand. In the late 1950s an addition more than doubled the amount of available floor space. The property is owned by the late Clay and Leta Forbes’ niece, Ann Long, who helped them operate the store in later years.

After the death of Blankenship, Fred Forbes managed the drug store for several years and later acquired it. Sons Clay and Marvin, who died in 1970, later joined the business, as did Mark Forbes, Clay’s son, who died in 2013. They were the fourth and fifth generations of the family in the pharmacy business.

A drug store has operated from the current location since 1866.

For Houston residents, the “drug store,” as it is known by locals, served as a community hub for generations. It’s soda fountain — which was later closed by Walgreens — was a popular spot for those attending the downtown movie theatre, the Melba. Kids gathered after school and at lunch time when the district allowed students to leave campus. Many a businessman in downtown Houston started the day for coffee at the drug store.

Generations of Houston residents had their first employment opportunity as one of several “soda jerks” hired by the Forbes family.

Join the Conversation


  1. I loved this drug store! Walgreens did a fabulous job of keeping the welcome and helpful spirit, in getting the prescriptions ready. Not to mention the soda fountain, the ice cream, coffee visits and the personnel that served, past and present. Thanks. It may close, but never forgotten. I am hoping not.

  2. I live in Mont Belvieu ,Texas 20 minutes out of Houston . I use our local Walgreens all the time . I sometimes like going to Walgreens just because it’s quiet and not as crowded . I am a fan of things nostalgic as well and I don’t like hearing of the closure of this location. . I think it should remain to serve as the downtown location .

  3. I’m heartbroken to learn that the drug store is closing. Long ago, when I lived there and went to school there, my boyfriend was the soda jerk. It’s there that I learned to love eating a black and white sundae! Every time I come back to town to visit, I always make a stop there. I know the entire town will miss the drug store – both young folks as well as old!

  4. In case you missed it above:

    Editor’s note: On Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, Walgreens employees in Houston, Missouri, were told by a management employee that the firm’s Walgreens store at 100 N. Grand Ave. would continue to operate from its current location and a closing would NOT occur in March.

    Attn: Walgreens: This store needs to remain open for many years to come.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply