Soda Fountain History

Did you know that The Pickwick actually began its life as a soda fountain and that the pharmacy wasn't incorporated into the business until 1947? Before World War II, The Pickwick was located on Augusta Road in the Warehouse Theater space, just one block from County Square – which was the location of Furman University at the time.

Furman students spent many hours in The Pickwick, dining and snacking off of ice creams and milkshakes, hamburgers and french fries. Wow -- The Pickwick was a popular spot and one of the hippest and busiest soda fountains in town. When World War II approached, the two Odom brothers who owned The Pickwick were drafted and sent to war. As a result, The Pickwick, along with many other businesses, was forced to close its doors.

After the war, Edgar and Francis Odom returned from war and reopened The Pickwick in 1947 on the opposite side of Augusta Rd, where the business is located today. At the time, this end of Augusta Road was a big field with only a few buildings and a handful of paved roads. Edgar and Francis built a new structure for The Pickwick, a simple 400 square foot building to reopen their soda fountain AND to incorporate a pharmacy. It was in 1947 that the pharmacy became a part of the soda fountain and The Pickwick.

Soda fountains located inside Greenville pharmacies were the norm up until the 1980s, where they gradually began to change ownership and slowly phase out. Even The Pickwick closed its soda fountain after many years in operation and decided to focus strictly on prescriptions. It wasn't until 2007 that the Odoms felt compelled to preserve a piece of history and bring the soda fountain tradition back to The Pickwick and back to Greenville.

The architectural renderings for the new soda fountain were created by local architect firm Pazdan-Smith Group. The soda shop seats approximately 50 people at counter seating and booths, and the menu is typical of the lunch menu from 1940s – simple sandwiches heated on a griddle, shakes and malts, root beer floats, fresh-squeezed orangeade and lemonade, hotdogs and chilidogs, 30 flavors of ice cream, and cherry and vanilla cokes served from a 1949 soda fountain. For an inside look at the soda fountain, view this quick video created by longtime friend and customer Hugh Pennell, the filmstrip from Open House, or the WYFF Jane's Carolina Video Segment.

The soda fountain is the actual fountain from the old Carpenter Bros. soda shop which closed on Main Street several years ago. It is a stainless steel and marble soda fountain with ice cream freezers and original soda pulls. It was restored by American Soda Fountain out of Chicago, a company that has been in the soda fountain business for 90 years. The stainless steel fountain is reminiscent of The Pickwick old soda fountain, where as teens, Dwight Odom and his brother Robert served as soda jerks.

Coy Huffman III, a local resident who remembers growing up with The Pickwick, remarked, "The Pickwick brings back fond memories for me. As a child, several times a week, I would scour the neighborhood on my bike for discarded Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola bottles. Once I had a basket full, I'd return them for a few pennies each and have enough money to splurge for ice cream or a cherry coke at The Pickwick soda fountain. I am looking forward to reviving this tradition and being a regular at The Pickwick soda fountain."

For more information about The Pickwick or the soda fountain, give us a call at 864.277.4180.