In October 1900, John A. Hook opened the first Hook’s Drug Store at the corner of South East and Prospect streets in Indianapolis’ German Community. Hook was the son of German immigrants. His father, August Hook was the brewmaster and an organizer in 1891 of an early Indianapolis brewery, Home/American Brewing Co. Hook, a recent graduate of the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy, hired Edward F. Roesch in 1905 to run a second store at New Jersey and Washington streets. Together with Roesch, Hook expanded the chain to 12 stores by 1912.

Lunch counter at Hook’s Drug Store, 1942 Credit: The Indiana Album: Jacque Carroll Collection View Source

Hook died in 1943, and Roesch then ran the company. But when Roesch was killed in an automobile accident, Hook’s son, August F. (Bud) Hook, became president. Hook recognized the need for change in locations and service, and he hired Norman Reeves to head store operations for 56 locations. Reeves eventually became chairman. Roesch’s sons, Edward and John, joined the company in later years.

Between 1946 and 1972 all but two of the old stores had been closed and replaced by 150 new ones, with room for parking and a new self-serve design. In 1963, Hook’s constructed a 152,966-square-foot headquarters and service center at 2800 Enterprise Street on the city’s eastside. (Such heavy rain and hail occurred at the groundbreaking that bulldozers had to construct a road of crushed stone before the 1,000 guests could leave.) Three additions and the acquisition of two adjacent buildings expanded the complex to its 596,470 square feet covering 33 acres.

Hook’s Drugs Store interior, 1951 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

The Kroger Company acquired Hook’s in 1985 but divested the firm a year later. Then Hook’s became a division of the privately held Hook-SupeRx, Inc. In 1988, the company added the Brooks Drug chain. 

Hook’s was one of the oldest drugstore chains in the country and operated over 400 stores in Indiana and contiguous states. The chain included 30 Convalescent Aids Centers, which were established in 1977. Registered pharmacists managed most stores, and the chain had over 5,000 employees.

Hook’s Drugstore at the corner of Pennsylvania and Washington streets, 1941 Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1994, Revco D.S. Inc. acquired Hook-SuperRx, a move that created the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain. CVS acquired Revco in 1997. The Hook’s Historical Drug Store Museum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds is the last remnant of what once was a thriving local drug store chain.

Revised February 2021

Help improve this entry

Contribute information, offer corrections, suggest images.

You can also recommend new entries related to this topic.