HURON – On Thursday, the iconic arrow that marked Humphrey’s Drug at 233 Dakota was removed, after the building’s sale to Jeff Van Winkle was made final.
Van Winkle, owner of the “Under the Rainbow” store on Dakota Ave. and a greenhouse on the old Route 14, bought the Humphreys buildings with the intention of renovating them this summer.
“We plan to restore and rebuild (Humphrey’s Drug) as much as possible,” Van Winkle said, “with historic features in the front windows and restoration of the apartments above.” What will be featured in the rest of the store – in addition to Humphrey’s decades of artifacts – is to be determined at a later date.
Van Winkle plans to find another company to occupy the south storefront.
Humphrey’s Drug opened in 1903 in Doland and moved to Huron in the 1930s. From there Hubert Humphrey II earned a pharmacy degree in 1933 and helped run the family business until 1937.
He then returned to school before launching his political career, serving as mayor of Minneapolis before being elected to three terms as a U.S. senator from Minnesota and later served as vice president under Lyndon Johnson.
He made several unsuccessful runs for president, although Humphrey helped craft some of the most important legislation of his time, including the Civil Rights and Medicare Act of 1964.
In the 1960s, during Humphrey’s vice presidency, many people traveling across the state via U.S. Highway 14 would stop to visit Humphrey’s Drugstore, to see the original decor, autographed photographs from the presidential administration Kennedy-Johnson and many artifacts: prescription records, a book that contained original instructions for preparing bottles, weights, scales, mortars and pestles.
The drugstore was second only to Wall Drug as a drugstore-turned-tourist-attraction. Vice President Humphrey frequently visited Huron and the pharmacy, using the Huron airport. The airport runway has even been widened to allow enough room for his private plane. Humphrey Sr.’s other son, Ralph, took over and ran Humphrey’s Drug for a decade, before handing the business over to Humphrey Sr.’s grandson, Ralph Gosch.
Ralph was the son of Fern Humphrey, the Vice President’s sister. For a time, Vice President Humphrey served as Gosch’s legal guardian
Ralph and his wife Bonnie McIlvaine-Gosch took over the business in 1971. In 1978 the HH Humphrey Art Gallery was founded. Bonnie has done custom framing work, produced vinyl signs and iron-on designs for shirts, sold Black Hills gold jewelry, taken family portraits, all while using the basement as a wicker shack. In the late 1990s, the business expanded to the adjacent south storefront and purchased the space in 2002, renaming it Grandma Humphrey’s.
The Goschs also had a business concession business that took them across the states, and they were the original owners of “The Donut Shop”.
But as long as the arrow is gone, it is far from forgotten.
Ralph and Bonnie Gosch’s daughter, Christine Gosch-Echevarria, the great-granddaughter of Hubert H. Humphrey Sr., who is the founder of Humphrey’s Drug Store, plans to keep the arrow in the Humphrey family with plans to restore it.