It’s no secret that my family has a great affection for the building The Findery calls home, but how could we not? Have you seen our beautiful home? It seems like it was left behind just for us! Don’t be fooled though, The Percy Medicine Building hasn’t always looked the way it does now. It used to be a factory an thus, there was a bit of a transition period to transform it into a storefront. Yet, we can’t help but love it more because of it— the renovations brought with it hours upon hours of family bonding time (that’s right, we did the majority of the reno ourselves!) and it has left behind a storied history for us to add to. So today, I wanted to share the story that came before ours and officially introduce you to The Percy Medicine Building.
A.W. Percy, a buggy whip salesman, was traveling by train with his family from New York to their new home in Waco, Texas in 1898 when his young son Albert became sick with an upset stomach. The family stopped in Kentucky and found a local physician, Dr. McDonald, who prescribed a bismuth subsalicylate-based remedy. Albert recovered but became sick again upon arrival in Waco. A. W. Percy, who had received a copy of the prescription, asked the local pharmacist, W. S. Merrick, to compound the medicine for his son. Thus began their partnership and the launch of Baby Percy Medicine.
In 1904, the Merrick Medicine Company was founded by Merrick and Percy. The Percy Medicine Building was built in 1908 at the corner of 8th and Webster, where it still stands today. In 1938, Baby was dropped from the name of the sole product sold by the company. Percy Medicine still retains its original formula of bismuth subsalicylate, calcium hydroxide, potassium carbonate, rhubarb extract, sugar, cinnamon, and orange flavoring.
Mules were once employed to haul product from the loading dock to a nearby train station. Legend has it that Babe Ruth knocked a baseball out of long-gone Katy Park in Downtown Waco during a New York Yankees barnstorming stop — and it landed atop the Percy building. Until 2010, Percy Medicine was still produced at the original factory at the intersection of 8th and Webster in Waco, but since that time manufacturing has been outsourced to a company in Texarkana. Because Percy Medicine contains 5% alcohol, the Merrick Company holds the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s oldest continuously active industrial alcohol permit, first issued in 1939.
Now, The Percy Medicine Building, may host The Findery, but we will always jump at the chance to retell the history that came before us, and watch as people’s eyes get wide while walking through its beautiful halls.