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RVA Legends — Old Dominion Tobacco Works

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

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[IOR] — from an advertisement for Old Dominion Tobacco Works — note the boat docked beside the building

AKA Myers Brothers & Company
Nineteenth & Cary Streets
Built, 1850
Demolished, 2013?
VDHR 127-6722

Tobacco makers that mysteriously vanished.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 2 — note the absence of any waterway immediately adjacent to the building

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 2 — note the absence of any waterway immediately adjacent to the building

Old Dominion Tobacco Works.—Manufacturers of Plug Tobacco, corner of 19th and Cary streets. Messrs. Myers Bros. & Co. are the proprietors of the “Old Dominion.” Fred. G. Myers and Jacob Edel, of Richmond, and Sigo and Herman Myers, of Savannah, compose the firm. About four years ago this firm came here from Lynchburg, and built their splendid factory

[USANJ] — Old Dominion Tobacco Works advertisement in the Army/Navy Journal

[USANJ] — Old Dominion Tobacco Works advertisement in the Army/Navy Journal

The building is 170 feet long, with two wings of no by 45 feet, and four stories high, with a basement, which is used for the storage of leaf in hogsheads. The first floor is the prizing and stock room, the second floor the lump makers’ room, the third floor the drying and picking room, and the fourth is the job room.

(Art.com) — 1867 advertisement for Love Tobacco, depicting “love” in the form Johnny Reb forking over his chaw to Billy Yank in exchange for some gwop

(Art.com) — 1867 advertisement for Love Tobacco, depicting “love” in the form Johnny Reb forking over his chaw to Billy Yank in exchange for some gwop

Enterprise has marked their footsteps since their advent in this city, and success has crowned their every effort. Fortunate, first, in having erected such a handsome and commodious structure, and in the selection of its name.

Second. In placing upon the markets, both foreign and domestic, such excellent brands of tobacco, as their specialties: “Fanny Edel,” “L. Rond,” “Epicure,” “Alarm,” “Love” “Old Sledge,” “Saratoga,” “ Old Dominion,” and “Tip Top.”

Third. In the selection of the most reliable agents in all the principal cities of the United States, to represent their goods.

(Pinterest) — Myers Brothers & Company tobacco label for Old Sledge, a cunning metaphor for its cancerous charms

(Pinterest) — Myers Brothers & Company tobacco label for Old Sledge, a cunning metaphor for its cancerous charms

Fourth. In having first carried off the palm over 27 competitors from various sections of the Union, by being awarded the contract for supplying the United States Government with tobacco for the Navy, Can any other establishment produce such a record? Pluck and unwavering fidelity to business has accomplished this result, right in this city, where there are at least forty factories.

(Find A Grave) — Sigo Myers

(Find A Grave) — Sigo Myers

The capacity of this factory is 3,000,000 pounds yearly. Hands employed, between 450 and 500. They have a large manufactory in Jacksonville, Florida, for making Key West cigars. This is in charge of Mr. Sigo Myers, while the making of the cigars is under the personal supervision of Mr. Gato, a Cuban, who is thoroughly qualified in the business.

(PicClick) — advertising tin for Fanny Edel plug tobacco, a prurient evocation of a young woman & the act of chewing

(PicClick) — advertising tin for Fanny Edel plug tobacco, a prurient evocation of a young woman & the act of chewing

In Savannah, Ga., they have a branch house, under the firm name of H. Myers & Bro., where they are jobbers of cigars, tobacco and liquors. This is managed by Mr. Herman Myers, who is President of the Savannah National Bank, a member of the City Council, and one of the founders of the “Daily Times.”

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 45 — showing the former Old Dominion Tobacco building under ownership of the U. S. Tobacco Co.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 45 — showing the former Old Dominion Tobacco building under ownership of the U. S. Tobacco Co.

If Richmond had a few more such live men as compose this firm, there would never be any ground for the assertion that is sometimes made in the daily press, that this market is losing prestige in the leaf order line. The advice to short-sighted members of the tobacco trade is, “stick close to your desks, and never go to sea, and you all may be rulers of Uncle Sam’s Navie.” Myers Bros. & Co. occupy the waters now. [IOR]

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — showing Liggett & Myers Cigarette Factory No. 25, formerly located at Sixth & Cary Streets

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — showing Liggett & Myers Cigarette Factory No. 25, formerly located at Sixth & Cary Streets

Let’s get a couple things straight right now. First of all the man’s name was Frederick S. Myers, not Frederick G. Myers, an aggravating erratum seemingly intended to thwart the future researcher. He died in 1893, not long after Industries of Richmond was published in 1886.

Second, Myers Brothers did not merge with Liggett & Myers. That company was created in 1873 when J. E. Liggett and Brother got jiggy with George Smith Myers of Missouri, not Frederick, Herman, and Sigo.

[IOR] — showing the complete advertisement for Old Dominion Tobacco Works

[IOR] — showing the complete advertisement for Old Dominion Tobacco Works

Third, despite the fact that the Industries of Richmond advertisement for Old Dominion Tobacco Works states its location as the “Cor. 19th & Cary Sts.“ and depicts a factory building, it is not one that actually stood at that location. Despite the proximity of the Kanawa Canal, no boat has ever sailed down either street. It must be showing the Savanna branch house.

September 2019 — looking towards Nineteenth & Cary Streets today

September 2019 — looking towards Nineteenth & Cary Streets today

So what happened to the business? Did they get bought out by, or transform into, U.S. Tobacco when Frederick died? There’s no evidence that they were swallowed up by Buck Duke’s ravenous American Tobacco Company, and they go unmentioned in the 1893 and 1903 editions of Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James. Curse the incomplete record!

As for the location itself, the entire south portion of the block between Eighteenth and Nineteenth along Cary was razed and reformed into today’s soulless and drab Canal Walk Lofts in 2013.

(Old Dominion Tobacco Works is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886.
  • [USANJ] The United States Army and Navy Journal and Gazette of the Regular and Volunteer Forces: Volume 25. January 1, 1888.

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Suspect Sought in Theft from Broad Street Building

It’s not stated by RPD but based on Tweets earlier this week we believe this is Mayor Stoney’s re-election headquarters.

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From RPD:

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help to identify the individual in the attached photos who is suspected of stealing from a building on West Broad Street on Monday.

During the early morning hours on Monday, October 12, the suspect entered the building in the 2600 block of W. Broad Street and stole a large television from the common area. The suspect was last seen heading west on Broad Street with the TV.

Anyone with information about the identity of this suspect is asked to call Fourth Precinct Detective K.L.  Robinson at (804) 646-6820 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com.  The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used.  All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Daily Planet Health Services holding supply drive through end of October

A full list of in-demand items is available on the nonprofit’s website, but among other things, the needs include generic freezer bags (quart and gallon in size); new men’s and women’s underwear, new or gently used t-shirts and socks; prepaid phone cards and prepackaged snacks.

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In advance of colder temperatures and the winter months, Daily Planet Health Services (DPHS) will hold a supply drive throughout the month of October. Supplies collected will be distributed directly to those experiencing homelessness and patients of the nonprofit’s Medical Respite and Safe Haven programs, which offer patients a place to recuperate, re-establish and reconnect – including homeless and veteran populations.

A full list of in-demand items is available on the nonprofit’s website, but among other things, the needs include generic freezer bags (quart and gallon in size); new men’s and women’s underwear, new or gently used t-shirts and socks; prepaid phone cards and prepackaged snacks.

“Traditionally, the summer and winter months are the most difficult for those experiencing homelessness to navigate, and this time of year will be further complicated because many of the resources traditionally utilized by this population have been affected by COVID-19,” said Taylor Garrett, outreach coordinator for Daily Planet Health Services. “Many of the creature comforts that we take for granted on a day-to-day basis are inaccessible for those experiencing homelessness, and these donations will make an impact right away.”

Donated items can be brought to the nonprofits 517 W Grace St Health Center M-F from Oct. 12-30 between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. In an effort to promote social distancing within the facility, those participating are encouraged to call 804-783-2505 to notify DPHS of the delivery, and a member of the team will come out to collect the items.

“In July and August, we were absolutely heartened by the generosity and support shown by the Richmond community, who turned out and supported our work to keep the homeless population nourished and hydrated during the hottest months of the year,” said Anita Bennett, acting CEO of Daily Planet Health Services. “We truly would not be able to succeed without the support of the Richmond community, and our hope is that those around the city will come together with the common goal of continuing to assist those in need.”

Individuals and families also are encouraged to take part in service projects, and a full list of opportunities is available on the nonprofit’s website. The projects were designed to help educate and engage those who want to help in a hands-on way, but have been prevented from doing so due to the pandemic. A range of options are available, which can be completed individuals, families or groups of students, church groups or offices.

If individuals would like to assist the DPHS in this effort, but are uncomfortable with purchasing items in-store and dropping them off at the health center, fiscal donations can be tagged with “Supply Drive” in the additional comments section of the online donation form under “Donate” at dailyplanetva.org, which will be used by the nonprofit to purchase resources off of the supply list.

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Black Lives Matter renews interest in Richmond’s Black culture and history

The Black Lives Matter movement has helped renew interest in Richmond’s African American culture and history, according to community leaders.

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By Cierra Parks

The Black Lives Matter movement has helped renew interest in Richmond’s African American culture and history, according to community leaders.

BLK RVA is an initiative launched in August 2019 between Richmond Region Tourism and 20 community leaders to highlight historic African American tourist attractions and engage visitors in events that support Richmond’s Black community. The group continues to promote Black-centered tourism in light of recent events. BLK RVA was recently awarded the Richmond Region Tourism Chairman’s Award in recognition of its contributions over the past year.

Tameka Jefferson, the community relations manager for Richmond Region Tourism and BLK RVA, said the Black Lives Matter movement has generated more interest in African American tourism, which she said is “long overdue.” Although Black Lives Matter began in 2013, the movement gained more support this year.

“Now is the time that we do need to come together as a community to support our businesses, to support our city and our region,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson also said that in the months following the death of George Floyd in police custody, she has seen more people visit the area around the Robert E. Lee statue. The area has been transformed into space used by the community for art, protest and memorial — and even basketball.

She said people are migrating to this area now that there has been a “staple of just coming together and a staple of community and uprising.”

BLK RVA’s mission is to illustrate that the Richmond region has evolved and is now a multicultural hub that specializes in four pillars: arts and entertainment, food and drink, community and history. She said the state capital is often seen through its outdated history–an outlook that needs to change.

In addition to African American-centered events and fundraisers, BLK RVA promotes the patronizing of what they call “rooted and rising” businesses; ones that have been around a while and others that are up and coming.

One established business is the Elegba Folklore Society, which was established 30 years ago. The Society hosts the annual Down Home Family Reunion and Juneteenth Freedom celebrations in addition to guided heritage tours along the Trail of Enslaved Africans and other historic sites. The trail details the history of slave trade from Africa to Virginia, following a route through the area’s former slave markets and also highlighting African American life leading up to the Civil War.

Omilade Janine Bell, president and artistic director of the Elegba Folklore Society, said the company prides itself on educating people because Black stories are often not fully told. She has noticed a renewed interest in learning about Black history in light of the recent Black Lives Matter movement. Jefferson echoes that statement.

“His (George Floyd’s) loss-of-life story has opened the eyes of many whose eyes had been shut tightly before,” Bell said. “Now there is a heightened awareness among Black people and others about the lack of equity.”

Jaynell Pittman-Shaw owns Maple Bourbon, a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch in Richmond’s downtown area that is one of BLK RVA’s “rising” businesses. Pittman-Shaw believes there is a new spotlight on inequity in the Black community.

“That is what people are protesting about right now: systemic and institutional racism,” Pittman-Shaw said. “Black business owners do not have access to the same resources that should be available to any business owner,” but black businesses need more support to thrive.

Jefferson said BLK RVA donated money from online merchandise sales to the Richmond Black Restaurant Experience, which hosts a week-long event in the spring promoting black-owned food businesses. Over $15,000 was raised and distributed evenly among 35 Black Restaurant Week participants affected by COVID-19. Pittman- Shaw was one of the grantees. She plans to “pay it forward” by using the $500 grant she received to help another black-owned restaurant that did not participate in Black Restaurant Week.

Restaurants such as Big Herm’s Kitchen and Soul Taco used the money to help pay employees who were affected when COVID-19 restructured business.

The Richmond Black Restaurant Experience supports black, food-focused businesses, including restaurants, food trucks and catering services. They have raised nearly $50,000, surpassing their new goal of $25,000 according to the group’s GoFundMe page.

In addition to restaurants, other attractions have made adjustments since COVID-19 began. Many of them have migrated to virtual experiences. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture are offering virtual exhibits, including the All in Together collaborative project and Determined: The 400-Year Struggle for Black Equality. The Elegba Folklore Society broadcast its Juneteenth celebration on Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.

The organization also recently promoted the Black is Beautiful beer initiative, a nationwide collaboration created by Marcus J. Baskerville, head brewer and co-owner at Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in San Antonio. Over 30 Virginia craft breweries participated to support people of color and raise funds for police reform and legal defense. Richmond breweries put their spin on the traditional imperial stout recipe to raise money for the Black is Beautiful cause. The Answer, Hardywood, The Veil and Lickinghole Creek were among the Richmond-area breweries that created stouts for the initiative. Each brewery will donate the proceeds to organizations that support the Black is Beautiful cause.

BLK RVA has also highlighted events such as the RVA Black Farmers Market, the Richmond Night Market and events hosted by UnlockingRVA.

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