RVA Legends — Randolph Paper Box Company

RVA Legends — Randolph Paper Box Company

A look into the history of Richmond places and people that have disappeared from our landscape.

[RVCJ93] — Works of the Randolph Paper-Box Company
[RVCJ93] — Works of the Randolph Paper-Box Company

1312-1318 Franklin Street
Built, after 1877
Destroyed (fire), circa 1905

A box man who kept busy.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 4
(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 4

The Randolph Paper Box Company, of Richmond, operates one of the largest manufacturing concerns of the city, and, in all probability, one of the largest works of the kind in the United States. This company’s factory is located at 1312 to 1318 Franklin street. It covers there an area of 100,000 square feet, and its dimensions and facilities generally are indicated by the fact that 500 hands find employment in it, and that it produces 60,000,000 boxes of all kinds a year.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 8
(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 8

It has $200,000 capital invested in its premises and their equipment, and in the stock, etc., necessary to carry on the business. It has five men on the road, and sells everywhere in the United States, and, besides, has many customers in Mexico and South America, to whom sales are made by it through brokers resident in those parts. It has its own printing establishment to prepare labels, .etc. All its operatives are white, and they are treated with a degree of consideration which was especially remarked by Joaquin Miller (the famous literateur), in his account of the city written some years ago.

(Find A Grave) — Norman Vincent Randolph
(Find A Grave) — Norman Vincent Randolph

This prodigious business is the growth of an establishment made scarcely thirteen years ago by N. V. Randolph, with but two men and four girls, and not a dozen customers, and it is to the management of Mr. Randolph, who has been at the head and front of the house from the start, that its remarkable expansion is entirely due. He has, indeed, displayed great business ability. He has given his establishment reputation, not merely for the quantity but for the quality of its work. He has exhibited its produce at State fairs, and even at a Melbourne, Australia, Exposition some years ago.

[CDRVA] — printers seal inside Chataigne’s 1881 Directory of Richmond
[CDRVA] — printers seal inside Chataigne’s 1881 Directory of Richmond

He has established agencies in all the larger cities, and has earned a name in the business community here as one of its most enterprising spirits. He is identified with several of the principal business concerns of the city besides this, and with its charities also; he is president of the Virginia State Insurance Company: president of the Confederate Soldiers’ Home; a director of the Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of its committee on Business Enterprises. [RVCJ93]

June 2019 — looking toward 1312-1318 Franklin Street, now part of the Commonwealth’s downtown office complex
June 2019 — looking toward 1312-1318 Franklin Street, now part of the Commonwealth’s downtown office complex

Indeed, Randolph kept busy. In addition to his duties as President of the Randolph Paper Box Company of Richmond and Chicago, he also logged executive time at Virginia State Insurance Company, the German-American Banking and Building Company of Richmond, the Warwick Park Transportation Company, and the Virginia and North Carolina Wheel Company. (Find A Grave)

His work schedule may have been what contributed to his early death at age 56.

(Chronicling America) — Richmond Times illustration of Florence Gretter — Sunday, February 11, 1900
(Chronicling America) — Richmond Times illustration of Florence Gretter — Sunday, February 11, 1900

However, he was remembered fondly. On his death in 1903, local artist Florence Gretter painted a portrait miniature of Randolph replete with his Confederate uniform. It was sufficiently popular that she was still producing miniatures of him 26 years later.

Alas, the box factory on Franklin did not fare so well, since Sanborn shows it reduced to ruins in its 1905 edition of maps.

(Randolph Paper Box Company is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [CDRVA] Chataigne’s Directory of Richmond, Va. J. H. Chataigne. 1881.
  • [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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