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Feds Landmark Lynn Home of Famous Potion Peddler

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The National Park Service and the Interior Department on Tuesday announced the designation of the Lydia Pinkham House in Lynn as a national historic landmark.

Pinkham developed Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, "one of the most widely-marketed patent medicines of the late 19th and early 20th centuries," according to a release from the Interior Department. It first retailed in Lynn, Pinkham's hometown, in 1875 for $1 a bottle; and was marketed specifically toward women as a tonic for menstrual pain.

Any soothing effects, however, likely had more to do with the compound's alcohol content (at 18 percent, it was stronger than most commercially available wines) and less to do with the various herbs its creator mixed in. In fact, Pinkham's potion "was routinely cited in the many exposés detailing the excesses and dangers of patent medicines," according to the feds, and helped spawn the Food and Drug Administration and other early 20th-century dams against snake oil. Nevertheless, Pinkham, who died in 1883, was one of the most successful businesswomen of her day when there simply weren't a lot of businesswomen period.

This success explains the historic designation of the Second Empire house at 285 Western Avenue, which Pinkham and her husband rented beginning in the mid-1870s and which served as the headquarters for her growing trade—not to mention the address to which women nationwide wrote, seeking relief and advice.
· New Designations Join More Than 2,500 Others Across Nation [Interior Department]