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Cahaba in Dallas County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Drug Store & the Room Above

 
 
Drug Store and the Room Above Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, June 1, 2020
1. Drug Store and the Room Above Marker
Inscription.  
The Drug Store
This hole was once the cellar beneath a drug store operated by Herbert Hudson & James D. Craig. They sold medicines, chemicals, paints, perfumes, and cigars.

On the same lot was Thomas L. Craig's large family grocery, Coleman's Dry Goods Store, and Fellow's Jewelry store. All of these store owners were related through marriage. Having relatives nearby meant that whenever there was trouble in the store, help was only a few steps away.

The Rooms Above
Traveling photographers would lease the second floor of the drug store, unless it was occupied by a traveling dentist.

In the 1840s and early 1850s, residents of Cahaba who wanted an exact likeness of themselves came here to have daguerreotypes made. These photographic images were produced on copper plates faced with silver. Daguerreotypes were expensive, fragile, and housed in sealed cases to keep the polished surfaces from tarnishing.

In 1856, the photographer Mr. Duffin introduced ambrotypes to Cahaba. This newer photographic technique exposed images on thin sheets of glass. Ambrotypes were less expensive, To

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protect the glass from breakage, ambrotypes were also placed in cases.

Photographs of Cahaba's Antebellum Residents
The cased images on the left are daguerreotypes. They are reversed images made of silver on copper plate and have a mirror-like quality. Unlike other photographs, these images can only be seen at certain angles.

The cased images on the right are ambrotypes. These are negative images in an emulsion on a glass plate, but are seen as a positive because a black backing was applied to the opposite side of the glass.

Finding good examples of photographs created in the rooms above Cahaba's Drug Store is difficult. Over time, daguerreotypes exposed to the air tarnish. Ambrotypes do not tarnish, but because the image is on glass, they break easily. Also, the emulsion on the front of the glass tends to fade and is easily scratched while the paint on the back of the glass can crack, flake, or otherwise separate from the glass.
 
Erected by the Alabama Historical Commission.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Science & MedicineSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1856.
 
Location. 32° 19.145′ N, 87° 5.749′ W. Marker is in Cahaba, Alabama, in Dallas County. Marker is on Vine Street south

Drug Store & the Room Above Marker looking north. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, June 1, 2020
2. Drug Store & the Room Above Marker looking north.
of 2nd Street North, on the right when traveling north. Located at Old Cahawba Archaeological Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Vine Street, Orrville AL 36767, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Drug Store & the Rooms Above (here, next to this marker); Death in the Street (within shouting distance of this marker); The Hole That Was Once a Row (within shouting distance of this marker); Yankees in Cahawba (within shouting distance of this marker); Saltmarsh Hall (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons (about 400 feet away); A Courthouse Reduced to Rubble (about 400 feet away); Dallas County Courthouse (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cahaba.
 
More about this marker. This marker replaces an older marker, titled "Cahaba Drug Store" with some of the same text.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 1, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 1, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 243 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 1, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Feb. 21, 2024