By Linda Dillman
Cars and pedestrians pass by the building at 11 N. High St. in Canal Winchester throughout the day, but the brick building framed by patriotic bunting has a long history of service to the city.
An original structure at the same site is believed to have been built in the mid-1870s and housed the Weisman and Speilman Bros. Dry Goods store. Between 1880 and 1885, R. C. Caslow opened a drug store in the same location, having purchased the building from Weisman and Speilman.
However, on Feb. 5, 1885, a fire started in a store room of James Billingsley’s dry goods store adjoining Caslow’s drug store to the north, which had previously been connected by an open archway. Both buildings were completely destroyed.
On Christmas morning in 1925, a fire of unknown origin caused $40,000 in damage to the drug store. The building was completely renovated with a new front and fixtures added. Twenty years later, another fire also caused extensive damage.
Caslow rebuilt the brick building and operated it as a family-run drug store until Harry Caslow, R.C. Caslow’s nephew, passed away in 1942.
According to the book “Canal Winchester, Ohio—The Second Ninety Years,” by Frances Steube and Lillian Carroll, “..the pharmacy was discontinued and the store continued as a patent medicine and variety store. After the closing of the Caslow pharmacy in 1942, Canal Winchester had no prescription drug service until 1951.”
The structure housed a variety of businesses until 30 years later, when Korean War veteran Richard Mills and his brother, Dr. William Mills, a Vietnam veteran, stepped in and saved the historic building from the wrecking ball.
Richard learned the Caslow building was for sale in the summer of 1972 and his brother purchased it in September of the same year. Over the next three years, the two brothers reconstructed the building by lowering ceilings down from their original 12-foot height, gutting out walls and replacing floors and fixtures.
“What first attracted me here was that the building is in the center of the business community and that is what has kept me here,” said Dr. Mills, who reported that over the last 45 years he has invested over a million dollars, including the purchase price, in the facility.
Dr. Mills moved his dental offices onto the second floor, which was also occupied by an apartment. A lawyer’s office was located downstairs. At one time, he leased space to a State Savings Bank branch. Throughout the years the building has also housed real estate offices, doctor’s offices and several other businesses.
“Following the 9-11 tragedy, the building was decorated with red, white and blue banners to honor the more than 3,000 people who lost their lives,” said Dr. Mills. “The buntings are replaced every two years so the building is never without the colors of the American flag.”