‘Pink Pills for Pale People’: A History of Cody’s Drug Store

[Editor’s Note: This local history article by New Canaan Historical Society volunteer Gordon T. Walker is the first in a series to appear monthly on NewCanaanite.com.]

Most New Canaanites know about Cody’s Drug Store, which operated continuously in town from 1845 until it was demolished in 1965 for the widening of Main Street. James Cody and his family operated the store from 1918 until its demolition. The store’s contents and many of the fixtures were donated to the New Canaan Historical Society, which created a new wing for the reconstruction of what had become a beloved town landmark. Today, Cody’s Drug Store is the most well known and popular of its many exhibits and relocated historic buildings. 

In its early days, the drug store was operated by Samuel Silliman, who was also the Town Clerk. The selectmen, perhaps being of like party affiliation, authorized him “to sell spirituous and intoxicating liquors at his drug store… for sacramental, medicinal, chemical and mechanical uses only.” Unfortunately, the Sons of Temperance, no doubt concerned about the definition of “medicinal,” successfully petitioned the town to rescind Silliman’s license.