The Pharm

An Alum

How long was “the Pharm” on the corner of State and Lake?


If you’ve ever found yourself in need of Band-Aids, binder clips, or a bottle of Coke on campus, you’ve probably ducked into the inconspicuous little store on the corner of State and Lake streets. However, its name and interior depended on when you paid your visit. If you stopped in before 1971, you found yourself in Rennebohm’s, or “Rennie’s,” Drug Store — fondly referred to by regulars as “the Pharm.” The second installment of Oscar Rennebohm 1911’s legendary Wisconsin pharmacy and soda fountain chain, this downtown campus staple doled out everything from grilled Danishes to postcards to Pepto Bismol and served as the go-to spot for quick lunches and romantic rendezvous alike. If you happened upon the Pharm any time after the ’60s, you probably found its once-sunny windows bricked up after repeated damage from Vietnam War protests. This concealing facade was no deterrent to Walgreens, which took over the location in 1971 in a move that foreshadowed their acquisition of the entire Rennebohm’s chain in 1980. Since then, Badgers have been procuring their candy, calendars, and cough drops at the “corner W,” and the lunch counters and tantalizing menu of the Pharm are relegated to the memories of its loyal patrons. The one thing we can’t seem to find about the Pharm: its opening date! If you were one of the lucky few to attend the grand opening of Rennebohm’s State and Lake location, or if you just happen to know when that was, let us know!