Places in South Carolina History

Posted by Mark Woodard

140 S. Main St.


     Medicine has been a part of Summerville's history.  During the Civil War, in the 1860s, Dr. Schweatman moved to Summerville and started a drugstore.    It was located on Main Street, in the basement of a private home.  Dr. Schweatman kept the business until his store was bought out in 1871.

      In 1871, Dr. Henry Charles Guerin bought Schweatman's drugstore.  He built a wooden store and house where Guerin’s Pharmacy is located today, on Main Street.   Dr. Guerin had been a major in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  Today, Guerin's is the oldest continuing business in Summerville and the oldest operating pharmacy in the state of South Carolina.

     Henry Guerin was born, December 15, 1827. He married Helena, born in 1835.   On February 11, 1871 they had a son, Joseph A Guerin.

      Henry ran the store for many years, dying on September 4, 1896, three months short of being 69 years old.  His son Joseph, who had been working in the store with his father, took over the ownership. 

      Dr. Joseph A Guerin married Eloise, who was born, January 27, 1874.  A lot of changes took place while Joseph owned Guerin's Pharmacy. In 1910, he hired a young boy, Herbert Dunning, to work in the store.  In 1912, Dr. Joseph Guerin wrote with chalk on a rafter on the second floor, about the sinking of the Titanic.  In 1915, the wooden glass front cabinets were installed.  In 1925, the wooden store was bricked over.  In 1938, Dr. Guerin hired the 12 year old nephew of Herbert, Charlie Dunning.   His first job was delivering packages all over town on his bicycle. 

         Dr. Joseph A. Guerin and his wife Eloise lived a long life.  Eloise died on December 15, 1946.  Her husband, Dr. Joseph Guerin, died on April 7, 1950, at 74 years of age.    

          Dr. Herbert Dunning, who had worked with the Guerin's f or 40 years, took over ownership in 1950, and owned the pharmacy for the next 25 years, passing away in 1975.  In 1975, Dr. Charlie H. Dunning bought out the store, paying each of his Uncle Herbert's children.

            Dr. Charlie Dunning married Harriet Lilienthal in 1951.  She was born in Charleston.  She and Charlie had five children together, four daughters and one son.  They are Margaret and Tony Martin of Yemassee, South Carolina, Barbara A. Dunning, Susan L. Dunning, Charles and Christina Dunning, and June R. Dunning.  Tony and Margaret Martin, are the only children not living in Summerville.  Over the past several years, Harriet Dunning had not been doing well health wise.  On Thursday November 27, 2008, Harriet passed away.  She was 79 years of age; she had been married to Dr. Charlie H. Dunning 57 years.  She was buried in Dorchester Memory Gardens in Summerville.  Her husband, Dr. Charlie Dunning, is semi retired, but still works in the drugstore. Their daughter, Barbara A. Dunning, is the pharmacist.

               If you want to see what the old drugstores looked like, be sure to go into Guerin's pharmacy. The tin ceiling is still there.  There's a table and chairs where you can sit, to enjoy your cherry-coke from the fountain.  Also be sure to notice Guerin's carved wooden prescription front, with the mirrored background, inset with stained glass.  This fixture was already used when Guerin’s first opened, but it was placed in the store in 1871.  The Guerin’s family home next door, has been replaced by two businesses.  The Guerin’s lived in the house.  In the end it became a boarding house.

          Only two names have been over the store in its history, Guerin and Dunning. As Doc Dunning says, “were proud of that!”


Mark D. Woodard

Summerville Tours

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