Stop 60: The 1919 Charles Floyd Touchton Drugstore
Touchton Building that houses Kiefer’s Village Jewels (Touchton Drug Store).
Charles Floyd Touchton, Sr. came to Dade City in 1904 from Georgia. His future wife, Ruth Marie Embry who would become indelibly known as “Miss Polly” arrived in 1898 with her family from Kentucky. Charles worked for a year as a pharmacist in the drug store on the east side of 8th street owned by Dr. Thomas Seay and R.T. Thrasher on the site of what was later Madill Furniture Store.
He returned in 1906, after graduation from Atlanta College of Pharmacy to a permanent position in the same store under Dr. Seay and Alec A. Boone as partners. The Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “F.S. Daiger will move in a few days into his handsome brick store. The Seay brick building is nearing completion. When completed it will be occupied by Boone & Touchton Druggist.”
Shortly thereafter Touchton bought Dr. Seay’s interest for the store to be known as Boone & Touchton. Subsequently he purchased Boone’s interest and the first Touchton Drug Company began. In 1919 he purchased the building which was used as a drug business, and in later years, his son, Charles Floyd Touchton, Jr. was his associate.
The structure had an unusual feature as the entire front wall of accordion folding doors opened to customers who could enter the store from the sidewalk. For many years throughout the 1930s the store offered curbside service, as clerks came out to take orders. The second floor also served for years as various doctors, dentist and attorneys hung their shingles there.
The offices above Touchton Drug Store were for many years the offices of Touchton Insurance Agency, owned by Charles F. Touchton, Jr. His personal office was the corner office overlooking Meridian Avenue and 7th Street. Grandson J. Thomas Touchton recalled, “When I returned to Dade City in the fall of 1961, he gave me that office, and he moved to the next office to the south. That corner office remained mine until I moved to Tampa in 1964. The first Touchton Insurance Agency office had been in the southeast corner of the drugstore – as someone entered from 7th Street. After my father bought another insurance agency located just east of the Bank of Pasco County, Touchton Insurance Agency moved there (probably on the ground floor of the Massey Building).”
Touchton Drug Store remained there until 1957. However, in 1926, the business was sold to Dr. Walton Clemmons Touchton of Avon Park (founder of the Touchton Drug chain and brother to Charles F. Touchton, Sr.) Fred L. Touchton became manager, and Dr. and Mrs. Charles F. Touchton moved to Gainesville. They returned to Dade City in 1933, and he again assumed ownership from Fred Touchton. Other owners conducted a drug business in this location until 1969.) Suzie Nikolai operated Suzanna’s clothing store in the location in the early 1990s.
In regard to naming, the Kiefer’s Village Jewels occupied the space in 2023, as part of the Kiefer legacy. You heard at an earlier stop that Alfred Kiefer’s wife, Margaret and his daughter, Pam initiated a jewelry store. After the sale of Kiefer’s Drug Store building, the jewelry business relocated in the Touchton building, and proudly display that the Kiefer Jewelry Store was founded in 1957 as a business. In 1997, a ribbon cutting ceremony was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for the Kiefer Village Jewels as new owners David Hevia and J.R. Harrelson had purchased it in 1997.
Surprisingly, two separate, unrelated Touchton pharmacists resided and impacted Dade City history. Charles F. Touchton Jr’s wife, Thelma Touchton explained the dynamics in a 1976 interview:
“On the northeast corner of this block (just west of the present courthouse, was a wooden building housing the Garner and Daiger Variety Store, Here Mr. Daiger later built the present structure which Dr. Charles F. Touchton purchased. A Touchton Drug Store remained there until 1957. However, in 1927, the business was sold to Dr. Walton Clemmons Touchton of Avon Park (founder of the Touchton Drug Chain).
Fred L. Touchton became manager and Dr. and Mrs. Charles Floyd Touchton moved to Gainesville. They returned to Dade City in 1933, and Charles again assumed ownership from Fred Touchton, who had purchased the business several years before. Dr. Charles F. Touchton, Sr. and his son conducted the business until his death in 1957. Other owners conducted a drug business in this location until 1969.”
Fred L. Touchton was also in politics and served as senator for the congressional district of Pasco and Sumter from 1934 to 1938. He ended his career as a pharmacist at the Walgreens Drug Store in Dade City from 1941 until his death in 1947.
In 2017, B.C. Manion interviewed the grandsons of Charles Floyd Touchton about their experiences in growing up in the iconic and loved drug store. They represented a third generation to work at the drug store. Both men credit their work at the drug store for teaching them important, lifelong lessons. It taught them how to relate to people from all walks of life, and about the importance of customer service.
“The same things I learned in the drug store became relevant, whether you’re selling a product or you’re selling an idea,” Charlie said.
In a small town, the customer is always right because your livelihood depended on those customers,” Tom said. “If they didn’t have a good experience at Touchton Drug Store, then they would go up the street to another drug store.” Tom said the strong work ethic he has subscribed to his entire life began when he was just six years old, working in the drug store.
“You work when you need to, to get the job done,” Tom said. Charlie added that the lessons he learned at the drug store, about being trustworthy and having integrity, stuck with him for life, too.