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Rowe Drug Store

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c. 1936. 531 Church St.

Remodeling as repackaging was a popular affair in the depression years of the 1930s. Such a remodeling should suggest that the establishment within is highly up-to-date, and this should be accomplished as inexpensively as possible. The owners of the Rowe Drug Store simply used Vitrolite, glass, metal, and neon to revamp their store's older image. The style employed here is Streamline Moderne, and the signage transforms the whole front into a singular billboard. Lighting, especially the neon, makes the front highly visible at night; during the day the building's presence is maintained by the brilliant color of the Vitrolite—midnight blue played off against a strong cream background.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Rowe Drug Store", [Ottumwa, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Iowa, David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 338-339.

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