In The Details
Friday, May 16th, 2014
MICKIE SPENCER: HILLSIDE FARMACY
The cabinets came first. From the first picture that she saw of the fully intact 1920s-pharmacy shelving units for sale in Elgin, Texas, designer and owner Mickie Spencer knew she had to have them. They were the perfect foundation for her next project, a farm-to-table restaurant down the road in Austin. She even had part of the name figured out—it would involve “Farmacy,” a riff on her devotion to local farms. Spencer had long admired a building on the east side of town, and when she finally got a meeting with the owners, she learned about its origin as Hillside Drugstore—the first African-American pharmacy in Austin. It was, as Spencer puts it, “kind of a weird twist of fate.”
Many design details in the restaurant were sourced from antique stores and fairs, or from Jones’ Drugstore in Elgin (where the cabinets came from). Spencer hand-crafted almost everything—from the furniture and tile floors to the oyster rack, booths, and light fixtures. The only thing she doesn’t claim credit for? The chairs—some of which were original to the building, and others sourced from Craigslist.
When Spencer first saw the vintage cabinets that now line the walls of the café, she knew that wine would fill the shelves where elixirs were once stored, and the interior’s sea-foam patina would set the tone for the whole space. Gold lettering painted on the cabinets lends an additional vintage vibe to the units.
When going through items in the attic of Jones’ Drugstore in Elgin, Spencer found cigar boxes filled with prescriptions, some dating back to the 1930s and ’40s. She framed a handful of them in antique gold frames, which hang on the wall behind the booth in the front room. She also saved medicine and tincture bottles, old newspapers, and other paraphernalia from the drugstore, which can be found strategically placed around the restaurant.
Spencer also built the booth in the front room out of scrap wood from old cabintrey, and the lamps extending out of the booth are made from scratch using copper piping and school-house globes.