Jonathon Lyon, one of the earliest citizens of Salem, purchased town lots on the west side of the square during the first sale of city land. The first brick commercial structure to occupy this site was built in 1824. After accumulating several more lots in the same block face, Jonathon's son, Dawson, was able to combine them to enable construction of a three story, seven unit attached commercial building.
These buildings burned in August of 1874, and were rebuilt immediately after using bricks from the local Shrum brick yard. A stone retaining wall was constructed around three sides of the Lyon Block two years later.
It remains with some alteration on the National City Bank side. Originally the Lyon block contained seven separate business locations with individual addresses. Among the historic uses in this building were the offices of the Salem Democrat to (1870-1920), a hardware store at #6 with continuous use from 1876 to the 1990's, a confectionery at #5 named the "Greek Candy Kitchen" but familiarly called "the Greeks" The founder of this store in 1916, was George Daleure and the building at the northeast corner of North Main and the Public Square now carries his name. The Armstrong family, hardware store owners who occupied #6 for so many years, is largely responsible for the preservation of this unit in its original configuration. Glenn Armstrong recounts the story of a mysterious circular structure located behind the building from 1887 until about 1926. This seven-seated outhouse was considered a luxurious amenity to the Lyon Block proprietors.
Today, the original side parapets walls still define the seven individual brick stores rooms reconstructed on the Lyon Block site in 1874. Their contemporary facades, however, have been heavily modified. The seven separate store rooms have been reduced to five and alteration of the first floor façade is pervasive. Original facades showed Italianate influence in the use of alternating paired and triple eave brackets. Limestone pilasters with plain capitals supported a wide lintel course which unified the first floor façade. This sequence of multiple pilasters on the buildings' original façade gave the effect of a colonnade. Today only one unit has been rehabilitated to reflect the original design. The address showing the most integrity is #6, now occupied by "Flowers on the Square" and previously occupied by a long-standing hardware business. In the larger building block, all of the eave brackets have been removed and fenestration on the second floor has been modified. Units #6 and #7 feature the original segmental arched window hoods and double hung windows.
Historic photographs suggest that the original windows were four over four divided lights. Original store front windows have arched transoms with paired lights and recessed panels in the bulkheads. The bank space which has perennially occupied the West Market Street corner has undergone two intensive remodels.
The Lyon Block building is the current home of Salem Apothecary.
Lula Dess Rudder grew up in #3 Lyon Block. She apprenticed and practiced all her professional life there. She did this at a time when the pharmacy profession was evolving from an individual practitioner/patient/ medication type of practice to a mass manufacturing/government regulated/dispensing only type of business.
Purdue’s newly minted Pharmacy School was pioneering a scientifically oriented pharmacy curriculum, and when Dess entered, she became only one of 2 women in a class of about 20 students that pursued the new four-year degree of Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy.
Dess earned her Assistant Pharmacist license in 1903 and became the first woman to earn her State License as a Pharmacist in 1905. She retired from the business after the death of her brother but was an avid painter and a piece of her art work hangs in the store today along with her pharmacy license.