Must-See RVA! — Cameron & Cameron

Must-See RVA! — Cameron & Cameron

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

[RVCJ93] — showing Cameron & Cameron’s Tobacco Factory
[RVCJ93] — showing Cameron & Cameron’s Tobacco Factory

AKA, Kinney Tobacco Co., Cameron Kinney
2500 East Cary Street
Built, 1884

A family dedicated to making book on the weed.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 13 — showing the building’s original incarnation as the Kinney Tobacco Co., with Alex Cameron & Co Tobacco Factory right across the street
(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 13 — showing the building’s original incarnation as the Kinney Tobacco Co., with Alex Cameron & Co Tobacco Factory right across the street

The firm of Alexander Cameron & Co. operates a plug tobacco factory here in Richmond; Cameron & Cameron are manufacturers of cigarettes, cheroots, smoking tobacco, long cut and cut plug at Richmond also. William Cameron & Bro. make plug, twist and navy tobaccos at Petersburg. The principals in Alexander Cameron & Co., are Alexander Cameron, of Richmond, and George Cameron, of Petersburg, and they are proprietors also of the Petersburg works. Alexander Cameron, Jr., is associated with them in their Australian trade, and is manager of all their affairs in the Antipodes.

(Find A Grave) — Alexander Cameron
(Find A Grave) — Alexander Cameron

Alexander Cameron & Co. have been established since 1865. Cameron & Cameron are successors to a business founded in the same year, and William Cameron & Bro. dates from 1856. The head of the house here and general manager of its affairs is Mr. Alexander Cameron. He personally directs the business, with the assistance of experienced heads of departments. He is considered one of the most enterprising, broad-minded and liberal residents of Richmond. Pie is accredited with a very large part in that industrial restoration which has come over the South, and especially this city, since the war.

(Antique Advertising Expert) — Cameron & Cameron tobacco tin
(Antique Advertising Expert) — Cameron & Cameron tobacco tin

They make a specialty of high-grade goods, and have for their principal customers the best foreign and home trade.

They have, indeed, a world-wide business. Besides their vast Australian business, they have trade in India, South Africa and very largely, also, in all the British Isles, provinces and dependencies.

May 2019 — looking toward 2500 East Cary Street, western prominence
May 2019 — looking toward 2500 East Cary Street, western prominence

The plug tobacco factory of Alexander Cameron & Co. is situated at 2400 to 2422 Cary street, and 16 Twenty-fourth street. Their premises there comprise a brick factory on Cary street, 44 by 160 feet, and five stories high, and a warehouse and stemmery on Twenty-fourth street, 44 by 140 feet, and also five stories. The factory is fitted up with the most improved machinery, driven by a Green steam engine of 100 horsepower, with four boilers of 200 horse-power capacity, for drying purposes. From 200 to 300 hands are constantly employed in it, and it has a capacity for 1,500,000 pounds of manufactured tobacco yearly.

May 2019
May 2019

The stemmery, also a massive brick structure, has a capacity for an equal amount of strips and leaf. The annual consumption of coal in the entire establishment is about 2,000 tons.

All styles of plug, twist and navy are produced from dark and bright leaf ; and from the stemmery are shipped dark and bright strips. The leading brands made in this factory are the “Venus,” “Queen of the Seas,” “St. Andrews,” “Our Game,” “Canary,” “Cinderella,” “Flower of All Nations,” “Cable,” “All the Rage,” “Double Pet,” “Signet,” “Havelock,” “Galatea,” “Apollo,” “Pioneer’s Delight,” “Gloria,” and Florinda.“

(iCollector) — a tin of Cameron & Cameron’s English Bird’s Eye
(iCollector) — a tin of Cameron & Cameron’s English Bird’s Eye

The cigarette, cheroot and smoking tobacco factory of Cameron & Cameron is, likewise, a prodigious works, comprehensively equipped, and is included in the block just described. They employ 250 hands here, and have a working capacity for a large output of cigarettes and cheroots, and of about 10,000 pounds of smoking tobacco a day. This factory is famous for its “Gold Medal,” “Golden Gate,” “Richmond Club,” “Favorite,” and “Purity” paper cigarettes; “Havanettes,” “Three and Five Beauties,” “Purity,” “Circle Club” “Cuban Sixes,” and “Favorite” cheroots; “Cuban Dainties,” “Little Darlings,” “Little Giants,” “Centennial Pets,” “Cameron’s Entire,” and “Old Hero” all tobacco cigarettes ; and their celebrated smoking mixtures, “Catac,” “Golden Square,” “Famosa,” “Richmond Club,” “Richmond Star,” “English Birdseye,” besides “Canuck,” “Purity,” “Raleigh,” “Virginia Bell,” “Favorite,” and other brands of tobacco, put up in all styles and shapes, which are celebrated, not only in this country, but in all parts of the world.

[RVCJ93] — William Cameron and Company’s Petersburgh Factory
[RVCJ93] — William Cameron and Company’s Petersburgh Factory

William Cameron & Brother have their Petersburg factory at Perry and Brown streets, in that city. It is a handsome, lofty and imposing structure, of modern architectural design, which a city many times Petersburg’s size might well be proud to have. It occupies the site of the firm’s original factory, which was burned to the ground in 1878. It is four stories high, with an ornamental cupola, and has a front on Brown street of 180 feet, by a depth on Perry street of 240 feet. The offices, warehouse, engine-house and drying-rooms occupy separate buildings, which, together, form a spacious quadrangle, affording ample room for the special work of each department.

(Google Maps) — William Cameron and Company’s Petersburgh Factory today
(Google Maps) — William Cameron and Company’s Petersburgh Factory today

But of still higher importance than even substantial and capacious buildings, is the machinery with which the various styles of plug, twist and navy tobacco are prepared, and in this respect Cameron’s factory is splendidly equipped. This machinery was manufactured from designs specially prepared for this factory, and is run with three boilers of 250 horse-power capacity and a 100 horse-power engine, and its own electric light plant.

This factory alone employs over 600 hands, which means, in other words, that it feeds nearly 3,000 mouths, and has a capacity of over 2,500,000 pounds a year. Its leading brands, the “Raven,” “Havelock,” “Two Seas,” “Orion,” “Canary,” “Our Chief,” “Peach and Honey,” “Mazeppa,” and “Pluck,” are famous wherever the virtues of superior aromatic “Cavendish” and “Twist” are appreciated.

May 2019 — 2500 East Cary street, eastern prominence
May 2019 — 2500 East Cary street, eastern prominence

For many years past the management of this extensive and increasing business has received the personal attention of Mr. George Cameron, whose business ability and success have extended the firm’s operations year by year.

The appointments and facilities of the Australian factories of the Camerons are quite equal in every respect to those they maintain in this country. It is not so long since those at Sydney and Melbourne were enlarged and improved at a cost of over £20,000 each. At both of these Australian factories Messrs. Cameron & Bro. have also found it necessary to establish their own bonded warehouse to facilitate the trade there, and these warehouses are under the charge of officials detailed for that special duty by the Colonial Government.

(eBay) — a tin of Cameron & Cameron’s Richmond Club Mixture
(eBay) — a tin of Cameron & Cameron’s Richmond Club Mixture

The illustrations accompanying this matter show the external appearance of the Richmond and Petersburg factories of this house, and are somewhat an indication also of the scope of its remarkable business.

Mr. Alexander Cameron is an active participant, also, in the good work of the Chamber of Commerce.

May 2019 — show corbeling around the parapet & windows
May 2019 — show corbeling around the parapet & windows

Cameron & Cameron may be just an old factory, but despite the irritating Insidious Tree-Architecture Conspiracy making things difficult, it demonstrates how much craftsmanship went into the construction of such places. The highly detailed brick corbeling is completely unnecessary for an industrial building, but the builder did it anyway — an applaudable tip of the cap towards aesthetics.

(Cameron & Cameron is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.

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