The most visible sign of resurgence in the legendary Old Town Saginaw business district is perhaps best epitomized by the newly completed restoration project of the historic Weinberg-Pankonin Pharmacy sign, located on the corner streets of Court & North Michigan.
Thanks to the artistic talents of sign-painter, illustrator, and caricaturist Jim Fives (who also contributed many witty and satirical cartoons to the pages of The Review back in the 1980s) the newly restored cornerstone landmark of the Old Town area was originally created back in 1946, when Reynold Pankonin acquired a half-interest in the former Hinds & Weinberg Drug Store.
According to Fives, he began this ambitious project last fall. “When they tore the former siding off the building and the old mural appeared, I went all over it and made a scale drawing of what was there, and then took various paint chips and labeled them as to what they were and where they belonged,” he explains.
“I took them home and soaked the chips in tri-sodium phosphate and scrubbed them up in order to approximate what the original colors were,” he continues. “Based on the original lettering style I figure Ike Kozak painted the original sign; and because Weinberg & Pankonin merged in 1946, chances are that’s when the original sign was painted.”
Fives also adds that because of the color scheme used, it was most likely painted between 1945-54. “Colors often match the economy and from the colors of the original sign, I would peg this as a post-war work when people stopped buying guns and bombs and returning soldiers were coming home,” he reflects. “In the 1950s and ‘60s when the economy was good the colors were all pastels, whereas back in 1945-46, even the ball gowns ladies wore were dark greens and burgundy, which are deep post-war colors.”
Fives began the restoration project with the idea of starting in early April, but the weather being what it was, he ended up beginning the actual painting around the first of July.
For almost 130 years druggists occupied the building at 422 Court St. Keeler & Hogeboom built the building in 1879 and in 1880 a February fire burned the structure to the ground. Peter Andrew immediately rebuilt the building and from 1897-1904 it operated as Parkinson & Parkinson. From 1904-17 it became Union Drug Co, switching to Link & Kirchner from 1917-21. Hinds & Weinberg Drug operated from 1921-46 and in 1946 Pankonin became partners with Weinberg, until 1953 when Pankonin became full owner, renaming the business Pankonin Rexall Drugs, which his son Richard operated from 1975-2007.
When completed a beauty salon will be moving into the structure, with the block also featuring a new cigar shop, Van’s Shoe Repair, in addition to the long-lasting centennial Bauer’s Jewelry store, Adomaitis Antiques, and Brasseur Trains, in addition to the newly relocated Listening Room and custom-guitar & vintage instrument shop, Phat Cat Guitars.