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Must-See RVA! — Larus & Brother Company

A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.

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May 2019 — looking toward 11 South Twenty-First Street
  • 11 South Twenty-First Street
  • Built, 1900

Okay, once again, something’s wrong somewhere.

[RVCJ03] — same building, identified as 7-9 South Twenty-First Street

[RVCJ03] — same building, identified as 7-9 South Twenty-First Street

In 1877 a partnership between Charles D. Larus and Herbert C. Larus formed the Larus & Brother Company. This small tobacco company, based in Richmond, Virginia, received national recognition with Edgeworth pipe tobacco, which then became the international hallmark of the company. By the 1930s, Larus had expanded to manufacture cigarettes, operate distribution centers outside Virginia, sponsor national radio programs, and manage local radio and television stations.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 46

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 46

In 1877, Charles Dunning Larus and Herbert Clinton Larus purchased the Harris Tobacco Company at 1917 E. Franklin Street in Richmond, thus forming the partnership of Larus & Brother Company. Herbert Clinton Larus died in 1882 and his nephew, William Thomas Reed, became general manger and partner in the company. For the next ninety-two years, the Larus and Reed families operated one of the nation’s most successful small tobacco firms. Known internationally for its Edgeworth pipe tobacco, Larus was an important member of Richmond’s tobacco community until 1974, when it closed.

[RCVJ03] — Charles Dunning Larus

[RCVJ03] — Charles Dunning Larus

Larus & Brother Company originally manufactured chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco in a plug form. A year after its founding, Larus began operations at the state penitentiary and continued there until 1897, when the company moved to 7 S. Twenty-first Street. Operations continued at this location for more than three-quarters of a century as the company expanded to occupy most of the block bounded by Main, Cary, Twenty-first and Twenty-second streets. In 1900, Larus incorporated and issued stock.

(RubyLane) — Edgeworth pipe tobacco can

(RubyLane) — Edgeworth pipe tobacco can

In 1903, Larus introduced its Edgeworth trademark. Edgeworth Sliced tobacco, the first nationally advertised pipe tobacco, came packaged in sliced form instead of the more conventional plug form. Nine years later, Edgeworth Ready-Rubbed was introduced as the first pipe tobacco ready for smoking, as it came pre-sliced and “rubbed,” or broken into smaller pieces. Edgeworth quickly became America’s best-selling pipe tobacco in its price class.

(City of Richmond Real Estate Assessor) — view from the tunnel

(City of Richmond Real Estate Assessor) — view from the tunnel

With the purchase of the Reed Tobacco Company in 1913, Larus began to manufacture cigarettes. Reed Tobacco continued as the cigarette manufacturing subsidiary of the company and its brands included White Rolls, introduced in 1931, and Domino, introduced in 1933.

(Virginia Museum of History & Culture) — Edgeworth pipe tobacco advertisement

(Virginia Museum of History & Culture) — Edgeworth pipe tobacco advertisementbecause every stud knows that huffing a log on a sunny day at the beach makes you a chick magnet

Larus prospered and continued to expand, opening distributing companies in Boston (1932) and San Francisco (1934) and purchasing the Sparrow and Graveley plug tobacco plant in Martinsville, Va. in 1935. This latter venture proved unprofitable, as the plant was closed, and its operations transferred to Richmond in 1942. On November 2, 1925, WRVA radio, a wholly-owned Larus subsidiary, was licensed to operate in Richmond. (Virginia Museum of History & Culture)

[COC] — WRVA transmitting room & input equipment

[COC] — WRVA transmitting room & input equipment

Not just radio either, the Larus family expanded into the teevee market with the Richmond Television Corporation in 1953. By this time, however, the end of the road was coming. The company was dissolved just 15 years later in 1968, and all its assets were sold to other companies.

As to the mystery of the address, it wouldn’t be the first time that G. W. Englehardt got it wrong in his book for the Chamber of Commerce. This time it clearly looks like it was him and not bad information since the Sanborn map clearly shows addresses that corresponding to number 11 across the street.

(Larus & Brother Company is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [COC] A Century of Commerce. James K. Sanford. 1967.
  • [RVCJ03] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1903.

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Wayback RVA — Main Office of the Negro Development and Exposition Co. U. S. A.

A Then & Now photo essay of Richmond places from around the area.

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Main Office of the Negro Development
and Exposition Co. U. S. A.
also Clothing and Gents Furnishings
Mr. I. J. Miller, Proprietor
528 East Broad Street

Just down the street from Richmond Dyeing, Scouring and Carpet Cleaning Works!

Giles Beecher Jackson was the first black attorney certified to practice law before the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. With Daniel Webster Davis he co-authored a book entitled The Industrial History of the Negro Race of the United States, where he mentions I. J. Miller gent’s furnishing store, with a stock of $10,000.

He also created the Negro Development and Exposition Company, which secured $150,000 to produce the Negro Building, exhibitions by and about blacks, for the 1907 Jamestown Tercentennial. That he was unsuccessful in converting this into a National Museum for Colored People, it was nevertheless one of the earliest attempts for a dedicated museum of this kind. An amazing story you can read here.


(Main Office of the Negro Development and Exposition Co. U. S. A. is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


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Stoney administration proposes supported isolation for select COVID-19 positive cases

On Thursday, Mayor Stoney announced that the City of Richmond, in partnership with the Richmond City Health District, will offer COVID-19 positive individuals with demonstrated need an opportunity to isolate safely and securely in hotel units.

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On Thursday, Mayor Stoney announced that the City of Richmond, in partnership with the Richmond City Health District, will offer COVID-19 positive individuals with demonstrated need an opportunity to isolate safely and securely in hotel units.

Research shows that diligent testing, contact tracing and supported isolation will limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Boxing in the virus” in this manner requires that every COVID-19 positive patient effectively self-isolate, ensuring they do not spread the virus to family members, friends or the general public.

However, a prolonged, secure period of self-isolation is not possible for many Richmonders.

“The truth is that not all people are safer at home,” said the mayor. “Some aren’t fortunate enough to have a home large enough to isolate from loved ones.”

Using the CARES Act funding from the federal government made available last week by the state, the city will offer COVID-19 positive individuals with a demonstrated need to isolate securely a space to do so.

The city and Richmond City Health District will partner with the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care, a coalition of service providers with expertise in the intersection of physical security and human services due to their charge of aiding those experiencing homelessness.

Basic needs of those who choose to isolate, such as food and COVID-19 related primary care, will be funded through the Family Crisis Fund and safety net provider network.

The program will be facilitated by Richmond City Health District.

“Let me be clear: this program is specifically for those who cannot isolate safely, not a vacation for those who can,” said Mayor Stoney. “These COVID-19 patients will be cared for and sheltered for the good of themselves, their families, and the entire city.”

The Mayor ended with an appeal to the city’s communal sense of unity and compassion: “I know you’d want it for your family members; Richmond is my family. Let’s take care of each other.”

Upcoming testing events:

  • Friday, May 22 at Eastlawn Shopping Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 27 at Eastern Henrico Recreation Center and Southwood Apartments from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 30 at Martin Luther King Middle School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Area museums will join forces May 24th to offer socially distant digital scavenger hunts

Local museums are collaborating on a unique scavenger hunt experience for people across the Richmond region. The program, dubbed the #RVAHistoryHunt, will launch on National Scavenger Hunt Day on May 24 and is tailored to fit the unique challenges of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Local museums are collaborating on a unique scavenger hunt experience for people across the Richmond region. The program, dubbed the #RVAHistoryHunt, will launch on National Scavenger Hunt Day on May 24 and is tailored to fit the unique challenges of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s so important to foster community connection,” said Jamie Bosket, President and CEO of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC). “These scavenger hunts are designed for families and friends to immerse themselves in Richmond’s culture in a new and safe way.”

“We’re thrilled to be working on this project with so many important Richmond institutions,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “Everyone deserves to feel that they can still engage with history and culture even with the limitations of social distancing.”

There will be two available hunts – one in which participants will physically hunt down items and one that can be completed entirely online with prizes available for each. Information on both versions of the scavenger hunt can be found here.

For the physically distanced scavenger hunt, Richmonders are invited to download the #RVAHistoryHunt PDF card from the website. Walking or driving, hunters will then use the PDF to locate specific items displayed externally at each museum. Hunters should then snap a photo of the object. Participants are encouraged to tag the location and include #RVAHistoryHunt in their posts on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Anyone who publicly tags a participating location and uses the hashtag #RVAHistoryHunt will be entered in the prize drawing.

To participate in the digital scavenger hunt, users will scour the websites of participating museums looking for specific images, facts, or other content. Participants can submit their answers for the digital hunt here.

Everyone who competes in one or both of the scavenger hunts will be entered into a drawing to win one of a variety of prizes from participating museum stores. The #RVAHistoryHunt will run from May 24 through August 23.

Participating sites include Historic St. John’s Church, the Executive Mansion of Virginia, the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, the Cole Digges House, the John Marshall House, Richmond National Battlefield Park-Tredegar, Maymont, Agecroft Hall & Gardens, the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, the Poe Museum, the American Civil War Museum, Children’s Museum, Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Virginia House, The Library of Virginia, the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, The Valentine, and the Science Museum of Virginia.

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