Henry R. Peters ca. 1963.
While 2917 Georgia Avenue, NW, has had a difficult time in supporting an active business in recent years, it is part of an interesting history through its connection to pharmacist Dr. Henry R. Peters and his Professional Pharmacy.
Henry R. Peters (1916-1999) was the first African American appointed to the Washington Pharmacy Board, the first African American to be nominated to the American Pharmaceutical Association, and the first Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Pharmacies of the District of Columbia. The property he is most closely association with is 2917 Georgia Avenue, the location of Professional Pharmacy, which he owned and operated from 1948 to 1970. Known residences of Peters include 2737 6th St, NE, from 1951 to 1960, and 4214 Argyle Terrace, NW, from 1960 to 1965.
Dr. Peters was born in East Falmouth, Mass. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Sciences in Boston. During World War II, he was a pharmacist in the Merchant Marine.
In 1946, Dr. Peters moved to Washington. He taught at the Howard University College of Pharmacy from 1946 through 1948. He resigned in 1948 to found his own business. Along with Dr. Herman Morton, he opened Professional Pharmacy at 2917 Georgia Avenue, at the intersection of Hobart Street, and became the sole owner two years later. Peters continued to operate the business with his wife, Theresa Eric Peters.
2917 Georgia Avenue today, once the location of Professional Pharmacy.
In addition to operating the pharmacy, Peters was active in civic and social affairs. At the 1958 annual National Pharmaceutical Association convention, Peters was elected as 2nd Vice President. The following year, he delivered the principal address at the annual dinner of the District Whole Sale-Lowry Company. In this capacity, Peters was the first African American to speak before representatives of the drug industry.
In June 1960, the District Commissioners named Peters to the District Board of Pharmacy to replace Irving Sacks who was removed as a result of his efforts to enlist pharmacists in the AFL-CIO Retail Clerks International Association. This made Peters the first African American member of the five-member Board. The role of the D.C. Pharmacy Board was to determine standards, administer examinations for licenses, promote legislation, and regulate the profession of Pharmacy in Washington.
In 1962, when he was elected President of the Pharmacy Board, Dr. Peters was still the sole African American in the United States to hold a position on a pharmaceutical board. While on the Board, he engaged in championing a thorough revision of the 1906 pharmacy laws, still in force in the District of Columbia. He urgently recommended more stringent controls and severe penalties for violations and was especially concerned about legislation to curb unethical practices among some pharmacists involving counterfeit drugs, mail order prescriptions, and abuse of physician samples. His goal was to make it almost impossible for a person to obtain drugs and medicines unless they were intended for legitimate medical uses. (more…)