Backstory: Drugstore Golden Age

Backstory: Drugstore Golden Age

In spring 1970, Charlottesville’s Main Street was an idyllic backdrop for the pomp of the Dogwood Parade. Pedestrians lined the street to watch the yearly community tradition in the month of April, while behind them, business carried on inside Wise Discount Center (pictured here, from the book Charlottesville Then & Now by Steve Trumbull).    

Today, of course, that section of Main Street has become a beloved eight-block pedestrian promenade, aka the Downtown Mall, constructed in 1976. The building that formerly housed Wise Discount Center drugstore is now Snooky’s Pawn Shop, located at 102 E. Main St.

A City of Charlottesville architectural and historic survey refers to it as the Rinehart-Levy Building, named in part for then-prominent local businessman Hollis Rinehart, who bought the building in 1915 when it was a “[two]-storey duplex brick store building with living quarters above.”

Before housing Wise Discount Center and a series of other tenants, the building was home to Levy’s, a dress shop, for 40 years (the store later relocated to Barracks Road Shopping Center). The pink marble façade, which can still be seen today, was added by Daniel Levy circa 1932-33.

Photo Credit: Charlottesville Then & Now by Steve Trumbull /