RALEIGH, N.C. – Johnston County native Lunsford Richardson turned to pharmacy after being a Cumberland County principal because he felt that was the best profession to benefit from his Latin skills. That career change, and possibly a winter of nasty colds with his three young children, led to the invention of Vicks VapoRub, a cold treatment with a distinctive aroma known worldwide.
A N.C. Highway Historical Marker (www.ncmarkers.com) will be dedicated on Wednesday, April 28, at 1 p.m. at the corner of Elm and Washington streets in Greensboro. Richardson moved his family to Greensboro from Selma in 1890 and purchased W.C. Porter Drug Store with a partner, John B. Fariss. The business became the Richardson-Fariss Drug Store. There Richardson practiced his life-long interest in chemistry and developed Vicks Salve in 1894. The highway marker will be placed down the street from the drug store building, which is now a law office.
“That little blue jar has brought comfort to millions of people for more than 100 years,” observes N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Linda A. Carlisle. “We are all grateful for the gift and for the inventive North Carolinian who gave it to the world.”
In 1907 Richardson’s oldest son, H. Smith Richardson, joined the business as sales manager and chose Vicks VapoRub as a more marketable name. Within five years the product had a national following, and during the flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919, the salve was indispensible. Although sold as a topical cold treatment, it is reportedly used today to treat many other ills.
For additional information on the marker, call (919) 807-7290. The N.C. Highway Marker program within the Office of Archives and History is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.
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