Eckels Drug Store

Eckels Drug Store & Museum
36 East Main Street
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
submitted by “wendyvee”

This post features two of my favorite things: a vintage business and a movie location … all in one!

Eckles Drug Store is a real vintage treat! Though it’s no longer an operating pharmacy, current owner Barbara Marbain (a granddaughter of Dr. George Eckels) proudly maintains the store as an ice cream/sandwich shop, gift store, and pharmaceutical museum. Eckels is closed during the winter and maintains varying hours from season to season … so check their website (link at the end of this post) before planning your visit. Consider stopping by on a Friday evening to enjoy live music!

People in the Mechanicsburg area have treasured the store for well over a century. Pharmacist Walter Eckels and his brother Dr. George Morris Eckels opened Eckels Drug Store in 1879. Mabelle, Dr. Eckels’ daughter (herself a licensed pharmacist), took over the store in 1929.

The 1929 soda fountain spigots are still in working order!

Check out Angelina Jolie (as Lisa) confusing the soda jerk in a scene from Girl, Interrupted below. You’ll also catch Winona Ryder, Whoopi Goldberg, Brittany Murphy (so sad that she’s gone), KaDee Strickland, Mary Kay Place, Clea Duvall (a seriously under-used actress IMO), Elizabeth Moss, and more … when you see Eckels in person; you’ll wonder how everyone fit into the room + lighting and cameras!

Note:The signage on the front of the store was created for the movie. The snow was also created for the movie … it was cold when they filmed but the majority of the snow in this scene was man-made. warning: Some language in the video not safe for work (or little ears).

I took these photos late in the afternoon last September. I wish I had picked a different time of the day to visit because I couldn’t seem to lose the reflections in the windows.

I inadvertently captured the reflection of The Washington Fire Company (which you can also see in the beginning of the scene above).  Oh, and “Bruiser my Cruiser” is hiding in that reflection as well :) 

The small museum in the back of the store features pharmaceutical packaging dating back to the late 1800s, family photos, and a wide assortment of ephemera. There are also clippings, posters, and other artifacts from the filming of Girl, Interrupted.

I have some additional “GI” filming locations to add to the site later … so stay tuned!

I find Mabelle’s story particularly fascinating. I’m sure that there weren’t many female pharmacists running their own businesses in the early part of the last century. Seeing her diploma and various other credentials (in the gallery at the end of this post) made me smile.

From the display card:Prescriptions from the late 1800s.
Drugstore owners would string them together with twine or wire and place them in their window as an advertisement. They of course wanted to let perspective customers know they had filled many prescriptions successfully. (
Ahhhh, the days before HIPAA) 

 

Eckels Drug Store Online

Girl, Interrupted on IMDB

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15 Responses to “Eckels Drug Store”

  1. Nice find. Coincidently, my bro-in-law worked on that movie, I believe as a set dresser. I’ll have to ask if he has any info to share about this location. BTW, I’m told instant potato flakes are sometimes used as snow.

    • wendyvee says:

      Oh, I bet he had a lot of fun working on location at the State Hospital in Harrisburg if that was part of his gig. I want to explore the tunnels there so badly!

      • I forgot til you mentioned the hospital, my sis-in-law (married to a different bro of my wife’s) who has been doing extra & bit parts for many years was in a scene at the hospital. She was pretty excited about it ‘cuz Brad Pitt was in the scene. If only she knew what a poor rider he’d become :^)

      • Bro-in-law says he remembers Eckels very well. He dressed the set for the shoot and then put it all back the way it was. They used chipped ice instead of potato flakes for the snow there ‘cuz it was very cold during the shoot. He got lost temporarily in the tunnels at the State Hosp. complex, so if you go you may want to find a map. :^)

        • wendyvee says:

          You’ll have to tell him that they still have the jars (with 12 year old candy in them) that the crew left behind LOL Yes, it was very cold. We lived in Carlisle back when this was filmed but my office was not too far away from Eckels.

          Yes, rumor has it that the tunnels are pretty extensive. The state uses some of the buildings as office space now. I would love to see them in person and I enquired about permission last fall. I never heard from anyone, so I assume the answer was “no”.

          The one-lane bowling alley that was portrayed as being in the tunnels is actually in the basement of a mansion in Hanover (now a B&B). I’d love to see it as well!

  2. Evan says:

    Hey there, this is Evan from the SWPA Blogspot, the site you found the Brownsville piece. Just read your drugstore post and saw the old business/movie site interest you have. Yes, the Fiddles Confectionary shop in Brownsville was used in Marias Lovers, a somewhat odd, but good movie shot on location in Brownsville in the early 1980′s. Plenty of locations in B.ville were used. Also, if you make it this way, close by to my home, they shot some of The Road here, but the site isn’t terribly dramatic, just an old but incredibly large mine waste refuse pile. http://swpare.blogspot.com/2011/01/movie-road-and-filming-location.html Is the post for that……And I am certain a person of your explorations already knows about the abandoned PA turnpike, also, another location used in The Road, from this post http://swpare.blogspot.com/2011/03/abandoned-pennsylvania-turnpike-trip.html Look forward to reading more from you….Evan

    • wendyvee says:

      Hey Evan! Yes, I know about “The Road” using the abandoned section of the turnpike… but I didn’t know about the refuse pile :)

      Which reminds me, I’ve had the turnpike church in New Baltimore on my to-do list for awhile. I’ve passed the steps on the turnpike many times; but I’ve never stopped. I haven’t been out that way for awhile … I hope that they didn’t destroy the steps when they were working on the overpass bridges a few years ago.

      I have a few filming locations mapped-out from The Deer Hunter to visit this summer.

      Oh, and I have one from a few years ago in your neck of the woods :) http://roadsidewonders.net/avalon-motor-inn/

  3. Evan says:

    Also, just a few months back, they filmed portions of another movie in Brownsville…. from the world wide interweb here…

    Brownsville, PA Filming Locations
    I got an email (Thanks Sarah) about a movie filming in Brownsville, PA starring Val Kilmer and called “Riddle”
    They will be using the Brownsville Public Library as a sheriff’s office during filming. Filming is to occur through Thursday.
    “The scenes will be shot on various different streets, but include Market, High, Second and Water streets and the downtown area. “

    Also, when we visited B.ville for our hodge podge collect all blog that day, http://swpare.blogspot.com/2010/12/thursday-day-trip-to-fayette-county-and.html , the ladies working at Fiddles claimed they used that site too extensively for some scenes.

  4. Wow! Gotta put this on my map now that we’re back in PA. Did you get anything from the fountain.

    • wendyvee says:

      I ended-up having ice cream both times that I was there :) Later in the year, I think we’ll go back on a Friday night to check out some live music.

  5. just wanted to say that I have lived in Mechanicsburg since 1972, I love the fact that this building is kept in great condition and even though it is not in business now, I love the history that Mechanicsburg has and continues to show to the residents here in town. I am glad that our little borough is kept clean and neat and the homes on Main street look amazing. I am so glad that I am a long time resident of this borough, we actually have 2 generations that grew up here.


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