Observatory Hill to Lake Mendota in nine seconds? That’s one way to beat the long, cold winter days on campus. Thrilling!

UW Tobogan Run, c. 1911.Launch site located (approximately) between the current site of Washburn Observatory ® and the La Follette School for Public Affairs building (L).

Image #S07723 and #S07722.

For more information about UW-Madison campus history, contact uwarchiv@library.wisc.edu or visit archives.library.wisc.edu. On, Wisconsin!

"The Pharm"

Location: #10 Store - 676 State Street [1947-1971], #2 Store - 204 State Street [1924-?]

Rennebohm Drug Stores, also known as “Rennie’s” or “The Pharm” in the case of the store located at 676 State Street. This location (as well as all Rennebohm Drug Stores) was bought out by Walgreens in 1971, which is still in this location today. The drug store was started by Oscar Rennebohm, a pharmacist as well as the 32nd governor of Wisconsin.

“The Pharm”, as students called it, was a part of the lunch counter culture, adding a nice touch to the different restaurants and shops already located on State Street. At “The Pharm”, one could spend an afternoon sitting on one of the stools located along the long stretch of counter, or cozy up in one of the booths located along the walls and study. Its prime location right near Library Mall made it a popular hangout for students and professors alike.

During the 1960s and 1970s, when campus protests were on the rise, “The Pharm” drastically changed their outer façade. They covered the large windows with brick in order to fend off any damage from protests. 

Besides “The Pharm” located at the mouth of State Street, there was also another location in the 200 block of State Street. The outer façade of the building remains mostly the same and now houses the bar Paul’s Club and The 608 restaurant. This second location focused more on selling school supplies and other necessities for students including corn poppers and alarm clocks.

Rennebohm Drug Stores no longer exist, but their legacy lives on in Madison. Walgreens recently changed their State Street location name to “The Corner W,” and though it does not have a lunch counter and soda fountain like its predecessor, it now offers a sandwich selection, frozen yogurt machine, and coffee. 


Visit UWMadArchives on Flickr to view more historic images of popular UW (Madison) student hangouts:

Hangin’ out at UW (Part One: The First 50 Years)


For more information about these locations or campus history in general, contact uwarchiv@library.wisc.edu or visit archives.library.wisc.edu. On, Wisconsin!

Samantha Snyder for the UW-Madison Archives (MLIS ‘15).

Interior photograph of “The Pharm”: UW-Madison Archives image ID#: S14878

Exterior photographs of Rennebohm Drug Store and “The Pharm” courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society: WH-34337 and WH-25260.