RVA Legends — J. B. Pace Tobacco Co.

RVA Legends — J. B. Pace Tobacco Co.

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

[IOR]
[IOR]

16 North Twenty-Second Street
9-11 North Twenty-Second Street
2201-2211 East Franklin Street
Built, circa 1853 (Twenty-Second Street) & before 1889 (Franklin Street)

A tobacco king who could walk to work.

(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate L — showing J. B. Pace Tobacco Factory on Twenty-Second Streets between Main & Franklin Streets
(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate L — showing J. B. Pace Tobacco Factory on Twenty-Second Streets between Main & Franklin Streets

The J. B. Pace Tobacco Co.—Manufacturers of Twists, Coils, Navy, Plug, and Smoking Tobaccos, J. Ehrmann, President. Twenty-second street, between Main and Franklin streets. This is one of the largest and best equipped tobacco manufacturers in this country.

(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate M — showing the other J. B. Pace Tobacco Factory on Twenty-Second Streets between Main & Franklin Streets
(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate M — showing the other J. B. Pace Tobacco Factory on Twenty-Second Streets between Main & Franklin Streets

They employ between three and four hundred hands, and have a capacity for turning out 10,000 pounds of tobacco a day. They make more fine bright twist, coils, and light pressed goods than any factory in the United States, and this is what has made the reputation of the house.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 1 — showing an additional factory building at 2201-2211 East Franklin Street, mislabeled as “J. B. Page”
(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 1 — showing an additional factory building at 2201-2211 East Franklin Street, mislabeled as “J. B. Page”

They have an established trade all over the United States, and ship to India, England, Canada, Africa, South America, the Sandwich Islands, and British Columbia. They make about two hundred and fifty brands for home consumption.

(EBay) — J B Pace Tobacco Co. Cross Swords Plug Cut Tobacco Tin
(EBay) — J B Pace Tobacco Co. Cross Swords Plug Cut Tobacco Tin

The “J. B. Pace twist” and “light pressed,” are their leading brands. They employ five commercial salesmen on the road. John H. Neimyer, Jr., is the superintendant of the manufactury, and has been since the present company was formed.

(Find A Grave) — James Baker Pace
(Find A Grave) — James Baker Pace

He is formerly of New York, where he had seventeen years experience in the same line. These works, which occupy almost an entire block, were founded in 1865 by James B. Pace. [IOR]

August 2016 — Pace-King at 205 North Nineteenth Street
August 2016 — Pace-King at 205 North Nineteenth Street

Pace had the good fortune to live a convenient four blocks distant from his place of business, at least until 1876. He then built a new crib at 100 West Franklin Street, deemed by Mary Wingfield Scott to be one of three Richmond houses competing for sheer ugliness*, and sold the Nineteenth Street House to Mrs. Jane King, the Ice Queen. [ORN]

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 57 — showing the changes in ownership
(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 57 — showing the changes in ownership

Tobacco made Pace a wealthy man, leading him to investments in other areas like the railroads and banks. By 1893, he was serving as President of the Planters National Bank, and seems to have left the tobacco business behind him. By 1903, the properties on Twenty-Second and Franklin Streets were either vacant or under management by other tobacco concerns. [RVCJ93]

September 2019 — looking towards 2201-2211 East Franklin Street
September 2019 — looking towards 2201-2211 East Franklin Street

The guts of J. B. Pace’s tobacco world have been largely swept away. The Franklin Street building is still there, but the one that stood at 9-11 North Twenty-Second (far right) is just a parking lot today.

September 2019 — looking towards 16 North Twenty-Second Street
September 2019 — looking towards 16 North Twenty-Second Street

Despite the Insidious Tree-Architecture Conspiracy fouling the view, It appears that 16 North Twenty-Second was consolidated into a much larger structure that became William P. Poythress & Company, which today, like so many former Shockoe Bottom industrial buildings, has been converted to apartment space.

(J. B. Pace Tobacco Co. is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Note

* The other competitors were the Alfred Harris, Jr. House at 518 West Franklin, which is no longer standing, and the Ginter House at 901 West Franklin. Mary Wingfield Scott — never afraid to share her opinion.


Print Sources

  • [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886
  • [ORN] Old Richmond Neighborhoods. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1950.
  • [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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