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RVA Legends — E. T. Pilkinton

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

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[IOR] — E. T. Pilkington — 514 North Twelfth Street, circa 1886 — three years after the death of its founder

AKA, W. W. Russell, Chas. Millhiser’s Cigar Factory #135
514 North Twelfth Street

Another tobacco factory that changed hands many times.

(Antique Tobacco) — Fruits and Flowers Mixture Tin

(Antique Tobacco) — Fruits and Flowers Mixture Tin

Manufacturers of all styles and grades of Smoking Tobacco, No. 514 North Twelfth street. This is the oldest and the largest factory engaged exclusively in the manufacture of smoking tobacco in the city, and for twenty-six years has “Fruits and Flowers” been upon the market as their leading brand.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 5

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 5

Its reputation is known to the lovers of a good smoke on two Continents, and no brand made in this city is better known to the local trade The capacity of the factory is 1,200,000 pounds per annum. They employ forty hands; have three commercial salesmen on the road: local agents all over the United States, and sell to the trade throughout America, Australia, and England.

(Find A Grave) — William Walden Russell

(Find A Grave) — William Walden Russell

This business was founded by the late E. T. Pilkinton in 1860, who managed the concern until his death in January, 1883, since which time Mr. W. W. Russell has been the proprietor. Mr. Russell has had many years experience in tobacco, and was connected with this house for years prior to becoming the owner of the business. He is a native of Virginia, and a former resident of Petersburg. [IOR]

[RVCJ93] — W. W. Russell’s Tobacco Factory, circa 1893

[RVCJ93] — W. W. Russell’s Tobacco Factory, circa 1893

Eventually, respect for the previous ownership and branding faded.

W. W. Russell, manufacturer of fine smoking tobaccos at 514 North Twelfth street, has been established in that line of business since 1882; for the first eight years of this period under the firm name of E. T. Pilkinton & Co., though he was sole proprietor. Two years ago he discontinued the use of that name, as well as the manufacture of their brands, and has since been devoting his attention to fine and fancy smoking tobaccos.

(Antique Advertising) — Virginia Creeper Granulated Mixture Tin

(Antique Advertising) — Virginia Creeper Granulated Mixture Tin

His leading brands are the “Virginia Creeper,” “Topaz,” and “Queen of Virgina.” He manufactures more granulated smoking tobacco than any other house here, and he covers a larger trade territory than any other here also. He has four men on the road in his interest, and his fancy smoking mixtures are sold all over the United States. His factory has a capacity of a million pounds a year.

Mr. Russell is a Virginian, twenty-one years resident of Richmond. A cut accompanying this notice shows the outward appearance of his establishment. [RVCJ93]

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 74 — showing the former E. T. Pilkington location now as Chas. Milhiser’s (sic) Cigar Factory #135

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 74 — showing the former E. T. Pilkington location now as Chas. Milhiser’s (sic) Cigar Factory #135

By 1905, the property had been taken over by Charles Millhiser, another well-established tobacco man, for his cigar manufacturing operations.

The “Virginia Star” cheroot factory, Mr. Charles Millhiser’s establishment, which is shown in the cut accompanying this matter, is one of the representative and most notable concerns of its line at Richmond. It has 150 Mr. Millhiser first embarked in the trade in 1885, and he is one of the most substantial manufacturers of his line. He has resources and property to back him, and the enterprise to maintain the lead he has gained over competing concerns.

[RVCJ93] — “Virginia Star” Cheroot Factory, location unidentified, circa 1893

[RVCJ93] — “Virginia Star” Cheroot Factory, location unidentified, circa 1893

He has five men on the road selling for him. They cover nearly the entire United States, and he sells besides, largely, through brokers and others, in all the principal cities. The “Virginia Star” cheroot is his specialty, although he makes also a number of other brands. It forms—such is the demand for it—nine-tenths at least of his output. It is made of superior stock, and is of the best workmanship. It is produced from the best New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Havana leaf, under the close inspection of competent heads of departments.

[RVCJ93] — Charles Millhiser, circa 1893

[RVCJ93] — Charles Millhiser, circa 1893

Mr. Millhiser gives the business personal supervision. He brings to his labors a long and varied experience, not merely of tobacco in its divers commercial forms, but of business generally. He is a native of the city, and was in general mercantile pursuits from 1866 until 1879.

In that year he went into the manufacture of cigars, and afterwards included the trade in leaf tobacco; and after spending six or seven years profitably in that line became one of the pioneers of cheroot manufacture here, by establishing the “Virginia Star” factory and brand. He is, as we have said, a man of solid resources and high character, and is well known and highly esteemed here. [RVCJ93]

December 2019 — looking towards 514 North Twelfth Street today

December 2019 — looking towards 514 North Twelfth Street today

And so was it true in 1893. By the time of the 1903 edition of Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James, Millhiser is no longer a darling of the Chamber of Commerce, or perhaps didn’t pay to be in the book, and is unmentioned.

Today, the corner on the alley where E. T. Pilkington stood is now completely consumed by the Harry Lyons Building of the VCU Health School of Dentistry.

[IOR] [RVCJ93] — side-by-side comparison of the 1886 (left) and 1893 (right) depictions of 514 North Twelfth Street

[IOR] [RVCJ93] — side-by-side comparison of the 1886 (left) and 1893 (right) depictions of 514 North Twelfth Street

It’s interesting to note that while the 1893 edition of Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James reused some illustrations from Industries of Richmond, that is not the case here. It is clearly not a reworking of a previous photo; the street scenes and cloud patterns are completely different.

(E. T. Pilkington is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886.
  • [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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Schools, nonprofits hustle to feed over a half million Virginia students: ‘It’s incredible’

Richmond school bus driver Tyrone McBride is still driving a big, yellow bus through Richmond neighborhoods, but these days, he’s transporting boxes of food for kids in need. More than a week has passed since Gov. Ralph Northam announced students will not return to school this academic year, and volunteers are still fighting to feed the 590,000 children in Virginia with free or reduced lunches who were ordered to remain home during the coronavirus pandemic.

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By Hannah Eason

Richmond school bus driver Tyrone McBride is still driving a big, yellow bus through Richmond neighborhoods, but these days, he’s transporting boxes of food for kids in need.

“It gets me out of the house,” said McBride, who has been a school bus driver for 18 years, “and you know, you’re doing a great deed and helping people out.”

More than a week has passed since Gov. Ralph Northam announced students will not return to school this academic year, and volunteers are still working to feed the 590,000 children in Virginia eligible for free or reduced lunches who were ordered to remain home during the coronavirus pandemic. Schools have been closed since March 16, though students were originally slated to return by March 27.

Whitcomb Court resident Simone Sanders said her children are now eating at home during the day, but she didn’t receive an increase in food stamps. One child is disabled, which prevents Sanders from being able to work.

“It’s affecting us bad, especially in the projects, and there’s nothing for the kids to do all day,” Sanders said. “And then you have to worry about your child just being outside getting shot.”

Sanders said she’s grateful for the food from Richmond Public Schools, and says she occasionally gives food to neighborhood kids who say they’re hungry.

The Richmond Public Schools meal distribution program, like others around the state, continues to evolve during the coronavirus pandemic that caused a surge of Virginians to file for unemployment. Almost 46,300 Virginians filed for unemployment between March 15 and March 21. The previous week 2,706 people filed an unemployment claim, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

The program started with 10 school sites, and has since grown into at least 43 sites throughout the community and 10 school sites.

Erin Stanley, director of family engagement at Richmond Public Schools, said volunteers, bus drivers and the district’s nutrition staff have made the efforts possible. Volunteers were using personal vehicles to drop off food, but RPS decided that school buses would better suit the cause.

“We did that for a couple of reasons,” Stanley said. “One, so we can get more food out, and two, because school buses are a bit more well known and probably more trusted than individual volunteers going in with their personal vehicles.”

Plastic bags filled with milk cartons, sandwiches, apples and snacks are handed out in neighborhoods found on the Richmond Public Schools’ website. School distribution sites are open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and neighborhood times vary by location. Any student in the school district can use the program, Stanley said.

Volunteer Natalie Newfield said many families she gave meals to lost jobs in the restaurant industry.

 “They’re changing the way they do deliveries, which is amazing,” Newfield said. “Every day you give them a count. If they need more food, the next day, all of a sudden your bus has more food. It’s incredible.”

Statewide efforts to feed children in Virginia

When schools closed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture activated the Summer Meals Program, which funds public schools and local organizations to serve breakfast and lunch during the summer.

Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William, pressed the USDA to change its policy which required parents to have their child with them when picking up food.

Roem said it was difficult for a Prince William County mother to access food for her two children. Her daughter has an immune system deficiency caused by recent cancer treatments, making her susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.

“When you’re talking about a 7-year-old with cancer, we have to really evaluate what is it that our policy is trying to prevent that is more important than feeding a child with cancer,” Roem said.

Roem said she was able to bring groceries to the family, who live in the representative’s district. As they carried bags of food inside, Roem said the mother told her children, “We’re eating tonight.”

“I fought with the USDA for a full week and won a major, major victory for kids throughout Virginia and across the country, and especially immunocompromised kids, to make sure that they stay safe, that they stay home,” Roem said.

The USDA waived the restriction last week, and states can now choose to waive the in-person policy for students to receive food.

No Kid Hungry, a national campaign launched by nonprofit Share Our Strength, is offering emergency grants to local school divisions and organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants can help people who are trying to make meal distribution possible, but may lack the equipment necessary to feed children outside of a school setting.

Sarah Steely, senior program manager at No Kid Hungry Virginia, said the grants can fund necessities like vehicles, gas, coolers and equipment to keep food safe during distribution.

“Those might not be resources that folks already have, because those aren’t service models that were expected of them before,” Steely said, “so we’re here to support community organizations and school divisions as they figure out what it is they need to distribute to kids.”

The organization works with YMCAs, childcare centers, libraries and all 133 of Virginia’s public school divisions.

The organization recently activated their texting hotline for those unsure of where their next meal is coming from: text “FOOD” to 877-877. The hotline is generally used during the summer months, but was reactivated to combat food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Steely called the hotline “a tool in a bigger toolbox of resources” and encouraged families to contact their local school board for updated information about their locality.

“They count on that as a primary source of nutrition, so with schools closed, we want to make sure that the students who are accessing meals at school are now accessing those meals at home,” Steely said.

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Use Exact Change or E-Zpass on Powhite Parkway Starting Today

There will be no manned booths taking money on Powhite for the foreseeable future.

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The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has temporarily suspended cash exchange tolls on Powhite Parkway extension and the George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge. This means there won’t be someone to take your money so either have exact change, pay too much, or use an E-Zpass. No mention of any changes to Nickel aka Boulevard Bridge.

As of April 1, if you make an unpaid trip on a Virginia toll facility, you may be able to pay that toll through the “missed-a-toll” process before receiving a notice/invoice. The “missed-a-toll” payment process must take place within six days of the unpaid toll trip.

The standard administration fee associated with “missed-a-toll” has been suspended temporarily.

Exact change can still be dropped into the coin basket at the Powhite Parkway Extension.

E-ZPass is now the most convenient and safest way to pay tolls.

For more information or to order your own E-ZPass, click here.

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Friday Cheers cancels, postpones various concerts amid COVID-19

Venture Richmond Events staff is working to reschedule Friday Cheers’ early June artist performances, and remain cautiously optimistic about performances later in June.

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Friday Cheers fans are devoted and unwavering, but in these times we must all be mindful that the COVID-19 virus has dramatically changed our daily social interactions and we must all follow the directives of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home executive order through June 10.

The governor’s order prohibits all public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals.

With these guidelines, and for the safety of both our patrons and staff, we have made the following changes to the May Friday Cheers schedule:

  • Jade Bird with Sweet Potatoes that was previously scheduled for Friday, May 1, 2020 is cancelled.
  • Billy Strings with Andrew Alli and Josh Small is rescheduled for Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
  • RVA Music Night – Palm Palm is rescheduled for Friday, May 21, 2021.
  • Jay Som with Angelica Garcia – We are working to reschedule this show for Friday Cheers 2021 and will provide details when finalized.

Venture Richmond Events staff is working to reschedule Friday Cheers’ early June artist performances, and remain cautiously optimistic about performances later in June.

2020 Friday Cheers Season Pass holders can still use their pass for the remaining June Friday Cheers events and for the rescheduled Billy Strings event on August 26, 2020.

In addition, as a thank you for your understanding during this difficult time, 2020 Season Pass holders will receive a 50% discount off a 2021 Friday Cheers Season Pass! TicketsToBuy.com will email current Season Pass holders with information about the discount which can be used when purchasing a 2021 Season Pass.

Those who have purchased a ticket online for any one of these May events may request a refund by emailing [email protected]com beginning Friday, April 3, 2020.

Venture Richmond Events, LLC and its staff work to produce an excellent experience for you on Brown’s Island, but we take the safety and health of our guests, staff, and community very seriously, and appreciate your continued support moving forward.

At this time, all other events produced by Venture Richmond Events, LLC, including the June Friday Cheers events, remain scheduled as planned, but are subject to change. Again, thank you for your continued support of Friday Cheers.

Presented by: Pacifico
Sponsored by: CoStar, Dominion Green Power,  Delta Hotels by MarriottDrive Shack103.7 PlayRichmond.comStyle Weekly NBC12CW Richmond and Easley Made Catering.

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