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RVA Legends Rerun Edition — P. H. Mayo & Bro., Inc.

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

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[RVCJ93] — The P. H. Mayo & Bro. Tobacco Factory — 13-23 South Seventh Street location

Originally posted on July 1, 2019. I picked this one because now the “current” photo is out of date. (See Dominion Building Implosion Photos Here) Time stands still for nobody.

13-23 South Seventh Street (factory)
113 South Seventh Street (stemmery)
Built, both 1873
Enlarged, circa 1892 (factory)
Demolished, both after 1905

Richmond’s first ciggy maker; it all started here.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 1

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 1

P. H. Mayo & Bro., Inc., operate, at 13 to 23 South Seventh street and 113 of the same street, one of the largest of American tobacco factories. They employ $250,000 capital in their business, have four to five hundred hands at work, and a factory of capacity to produce 400,000 pounds of the numerous superior brands which have been introduced by them or their predecessors, and found favor during the sixty-two years the establishment has been doing business.

(Find A Grave) — Peter H. Mayo

(Find A Grave) — Peter H. Mayo

This factory was established in 1830 by B. A. Mayo, father of P. H. Mayo, president of the company now. Mr. Mayo has associated with him in the management, Thomas Atkinson, Jr., who is vice-president of the company; Edward C. Mayo, secretary and treasurer; and J. W. Atkinson, Jr., assistant secretary. The Messrs. Atkinson are his nephews. The company was incorporated and succeeded the firm of P. H. Mayo & Bro. about two years ago.

(The Virginia Shop) — P. H. Mayo & Brother tobacco crate label

(The Virginia Shop) — P. H. Mayo & Brother tobacco crate label

The original Mayo factory was at Twenty-fifth and Cary streets. The one now occupied by the company was built in 1873. It was damaged by fire about a year ago and was then reconstructed and enlarged. It covers about a third of a block, and across the street from it the company has two large leaf factories.

(Sports Collectors Digest) — Mayo’s Cut Plug tobacco tin

(Sports Collectors Digest) — Mayo’s Cut Plug tobacco tin

The brands turned out by this factory are very numerous. Some of them are made for export, others for domestic trade. Its standard specialties are: “Eglantine,” “Ivy,” “Mayo’s Cut Plug,” “Holly,” “Banquet Sweet Chewing,” and “Mayo’s Genuine TJ. S. Navy,” which was the first ‘ ‘ navy plug ’ ’ ever made in this country.

(Metropolitan Museum of Art) — sports cards sold with Mayo’s Cut Plug — John Dunlop, Harvard University (left) — Tucker, 1st Base, Boston (right)

(Metropolitan Museum of Art) — sports cards sold with Mayo’s Cut Plug — John Dunlop, Harvard University (left) — Tucker, 1st Base, Boston (right)

The company has five men on the road, and has agents besides in Liverpool and Bristol, Eng., in which cities the house of Thomas P. Jose & Sons represents them. In Boston, Stephen Tilton & Co. are their representatives; and in Baltimore, A. Seemuller & Sons do their business.

June 2019 — looking towards 13-23 South Seventh Street factory location

June 2019 — looking towards 13-23 South Seventh Street factory location — today, the Virginia Employment Commission building

The name of Mayo is historic here. It was a Mayo who, with Byrd, laid out the city, and the family has had one or more representatives prominent in every generation here since. One of the attractions of the city to tourists, is the burial place of the great Indian chief, Powhatan, which is on the old Mayo homestead about a mile below Richmond corporate limits. This place has been the home of the Mayo family for a century and a half.

June 2019 — looking towards 113 South Seventh Street stemmery location

June 2019 — looking towards 113 South Seventh Street stemmery location — today, the Dominion Energy building

The Mayo’s company was the first to mass produce cigarettes for sale, but they quickly drew company, and their production was eventually surpassed by Allen & Ginter. Of course, both were gobbled up, as the tobacco crate label above attests, by the voracious James Buchanan Duke in 1890, as part of his American Tobacco Company trust. [CIGC]

(ProQuest® Sanborn Maps Geo Edition™) — Sanborn Insurance Maps of Richmond (1924) — composite of Plates 10 & 13

(ProQuest® Sanborn Maps Geo Edition™) — Sanborn Insurance Maps of Richmond (1924) — composite of Plates 10 & 13

That basically signaled doom for the P. H. Mayo & Brother buildings. Plate 10 of the 1905 Sanborn maps bears a note that states:

American Tobacco Co.
P. H. Mayo & Bro. Branch
To be removed to E. Cary St. Bet. 25th & 26th

And as faithful readers of this space know well, that is the location of the Cameron & Cameron tobacco factory.

So at some point between 1905 and 1924 both bit the dust. The factory was replaced by the new Richmond Dry Goods Co. Inc. building, and the stemmery by the Times-Dispatch Printing & Publishing building.

(P. H. Mayo & Bro., Inc. is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Note

If you have wall space that’s just crying out for a colorful reproduction that depicts Richmond history, you could do a lot worse than The Virginia Shop’s Mayo poster above. It comes in three different sizes and looks absolutely sweet up close. And no, neither Rocket Werks nor RVAHub is affiliated with The Virginia Shop in any way, it’s just really cool looking.


Print Sources

  • [CIGC] The Cigarette Century. Allan M. Brandt. 2007.
  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.

rocket_werks

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Suspension Bridge to Belle Isle Closed Today

The bridge should be completed by the weekend.

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The suspension pedestrian bridge to Belle Isle is temporarily closed due to concrete falling from Lee Bridge.

The closure took place Wednesday after city officials received reports of concrete pieces being found on the pedestrian bridge.

“It was concluded that the concrete pieces fell from an open joint of the Lee Bridge. Consequently, the pedestrian bridge located directly under the open joint had to be closed in an effort to protect the public,” a release said.

While the engineers say there is no serious danger they’re putting in a scaffolding protection system along some stretches of the bridge. The installation is taking place today (Thursday) and is expected to be done Friday.

Dominion RiverRock is this weekend and temperatures are in expected in the upper 90’s so usage of the bridge and Belle Isle will be at a season-high.

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Virginia lawmakers dodge questions on whether budget might include new policy on skill games

“Let’s keep ’em guessing,” House Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, said Tuesday when asked for a response to the claim the budget could include a revised policy on skill games, either to tighten the existing ban or to lift it.

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By Graham Moomaw

Budget leaders in the Virginia General Assembly won’t say if they’re considering changing the state’s contested ban on slots-like skill machines through the budget, despite that possibility already convincing a judge to order a lengthy delay in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban.

Last month, lawyers challenging the ban as unconstitutional pointed to the legislature’s ongoing special session and unfinished budget to argue the case should be delayed until all sides know what the state’s official policy on skill games will be. But the General Assembly’s budget negotiators won’t even say whether skill-games are part of their discussions.

“Let’s keep ’em guessing,” House Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, said Tuesday when asked for a response to the claim the budget could include a revised policy on skill games, either to tighten the existing ban or to lift it.

Knight insisted the budget will get done and said “fine-tuning” is underway.

“In negotiations, I don’t comment on anything,” Knight said. “That’s how I work a negotiation.”

Asked about potential skill games changes Tuesday after a meeting in Richmond, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, one of the 14 legislators working on the state budget, deferred to Senate Finance Chairwoman Janet Howell, D-Fairfax. Howell did not attend Tuesday morning’s Senate Finance Committee meeting, and she did not respond to an emailed request for comment Monday. In an email, a Senate budget staffer said “budget negotiations are ongoing.”

As Virginia recently relaxed laws to allow more types of state-sanctioned gambling, skill games have become a perennial point of contention. Usually found in convenience stores, sports bars and truck stops, they function similarly to chance-based slot machines but involve a small element of skill that allows backers to argue they’re more akin to traditional arcade games. Most machines involve slots-like reels and spins, but players have to slightly adjust the squares up or down in order to create a winning row of symbols.

Proponents insist the games are legal and give small Virginia business owners a piece of an industry dominated by big casino interests. In 2019, the chief prosecutor in Charlottesville concluded that they amount to illegal gambling devices, and critics have accused the industry of exploiting loopholes to set up a lucrative gaming enterprise that rapidly grew with minimal regulatory oversight.

After a one-year period of regulation and taxation to raise money for a COVID-19 pandemic relief fund, the critics won out in the General Assembly, with a ban on the machines taking effect in July 2021. But a Southside business owner who filed a lawsuit with the assistance of Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, successfully won a court injunction late last year barring enforcement of that law until his legal challenge is resolved. After Stanley wrote a letter pointing to the special session and unfinished budget talks as a reason to delay a hearing scheduled for May 18, the judge overseeing the case postponed the hearing until Nov. 2. The order also prohibited the state from enforcing the ban against thousands of previously regulated skill machines until November. The order doesn’t apply to machines that weren’t fully legal before the ban took effect, a distinction sowing confusion for local officials trying to sort out what’s allowed and what’s not.

In recent social media posts, the plaintiff challenging the ban, truck stop owner and former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler, said the delay was requested because “legislators are threatening to now try to ban or legislate skill games through the budget.”

“So we need to know what we are fighting against,” Sadler said in a message posted to Twitter last week in response to a Virginia Mercury article about the delay.

Skill-game supporters have claimed the ban was driven by other gambling interests who want to clear out smaller competitors to make more money for themselves. As the gambling turf wars continue in Richmond, some local governments are frustrated by the lack of clarity on whether the state is or isn’t banning the machines.

“It’s created chaos,” said Franklin City Manager Amanda Jarratt.

Jarratt said her city has been dealing with crime and other disturbances associated with the machines, but has gotten little help because there’s no regulatory agency in charge of them. Virginia ABC had temporary oversight of the machines starting in 2020, but that ended when the ban took effect last year and ABC no longer had legal responsibility over gaming machines in ABC-licensed businesses.

“It continuing to drag on over months is only making the situation worse and leaving localities in a difficult position,” she said, adding her city simply doesn’t have the staffing power to try to figure out which machines are operating legally and which are illegal. “You want to be fair to the business owners, but you also need to look out for the best interest of the locality as a whole.”

Jarratt said she’d like clearer direction on whether the state is going to allow the machines or not.

If a new skill-game provision is put into the state budget, it would still need to win approval from the full General Assembly. But with the clock ticking to pass a budget before the fiscal year ends June 30, it’s unclear how open party leaders would be to changes to whatever deal budget negotiators present as the final product of months of work.

Knight offered little clarity on whether skill games are even a live issue. He also seemed to caution against putting too much stock into what people say they’re hearing about the budget.

“I heard that we were going to do the budget today. I heard we were going to do it on the 24th. I heard we were going to do it on the 27th. I’ve heard June the first. I’ve heard a lot of things,” Knight said. “But as far as I know, the only people that know are maybe a few budget conferees. And we’re not talking. Because we’re working to get things right.”

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Robert Zullo for questions: [email protected] Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Look Up Saturday for the 40 ACRES: Chimborazo Park Skywriting

The poetics of the skywriting serve as a reminder of that unfulfilled promise of reparations.

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1708 Gallery is excited to announce the date of 40 ACRES: Chimborazo Park, a skywriting performance by Sandy Williams IV. For the performance, a skywriter will trace the dimensions of a 40-acre plot above Chimborazo Park to place a sharp focus on the Freedman community that existed in this area. The poetics of the skywriting serve as a reminder of that unfulfilled promise of reparations. It is a public acknowledgment that will be briefly visible for miles and a physical metaphor for the ways in which the legend of reparations, “40 Acres and a Mule”, still holds an invisible presence in our atmosphere. The visual presence of things might disappear, but the memory is kept alive in the stories that we remember and pass down. This performance is part of William’s upcoming exhibition with 1708 and their long-term work The 40 Acres Archive.

Sandy Williams IV’s skywriting performance 40 ACRES: Chimborazo Park will begin at 3:00 pm.

At the performance, visitors can expect a DJ set, light refreshments, and a brief presentation of the project by Williams and his collaborators.

Please RSVP. This event is free and open to the public.
This project is being supported by Reynolds Gallery, Oakwood Arts, where Sandy is an artist in residence through support from CultureWorks, Afrikana Film Festival, and Arts & Letters Creative Co.
Reserved rain dates to be confirmed the week of:
Friday, May 20, 2022 (5:00 PM – 7:00 PM)
Sunday, May 22, 2022 (2:00 PM –  4:00 PM)

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