American Tobacco Company Manufacturing Plant, Durham, North Carolina
Posted by: showbizkid
N 35° 59.597 W 078° 54.294
17S E 688855 N 3985233
Quick Description: The former manufacturing plant of the American Tobacco Company with buildings between 50 and 125 years old, has been resurrected into offices, restaurants and public space. The facilty is now called the American Tobacco Historic District.
Location: North Carolina, United States
Date Posted: 7/30/2006 12:22:41 PM
Waymark Code: WMJPJ
In 1865, Washington Duke of North Carolina was released from a Union POW camp and returned to his farm north of Durham.
There was little left of the farm except for a small amount of Bright Leaf tobacco. With his family's help, he pulverized and cleaned the crop in a small log barn. Then he packed it into muslin bags and labeled it "Pro Bono Publico"--for the good of the public.
Union soldiers stationed near Durham clamored for the flavorful golden tobacco they had enjoyed in North Carolina and, by word-of-mouth, the tobacco business in Durham took off.
Soon Duke & Sons found itself in tight competition with the Genuine "Bull Durham" Tobacco Factory. Washington's son, James Buchanan "Buck" Duke, decided the company could generate much needed profit by investing in the small, but growing cigarette market. He succeeded in this area so well that in 1890 his four biggest rivals joined him and he became president of the new firm - The American Tobacco Company.
Duke & Sons found W.T. Blackwell's Genuine "Bull" Durham Tobacco Factory to be strong rival. In fact, it was one of the largest in the world. The "Bull" had many imitators, other brands that capitalized on the words "Bull" or "Durham" in their tobacco advertising. Buck Duke refused to follow suit in the "roll your own" loose tobacco market, choosing instead to continue to delve into cigarette manufacturing in order to compete.
In subsequent years, American became the biggest tobacco company in the world with successful products such as the unique, "toasted" tobacco in the Lucky Strike brand. Pall Mall and Tareyton also ranked among their successes.
The manufacture of tobacco products moved to other cities about 20 years ago and the old American Tobacco plant, about 10 buildings ranging from about 125 years to about 50 years old, were vacant for many years. These buildings included former plants of American's old rival W.T. Blackwell's. About 70% of the American Tobacco Plant's structures have been renovated as high tech office space. Restaurants serve the people working at the "campus," but also the general public. The Durham Bulls baseball stadium is right next door and baseball fans visit before and after games.
The Lucky Strike Water Tower and smokestack have been refurbished and are landmarks at the facility. Under the water tower on Thursday nights during mild weather a free public concert is held. A lengthy watercourse travels through the center of the plant with various fountains and spillways along the route.
Renovations continue on several of the older buildings and will be completed shortly. New office space is also planned and will blend in with the existing brick architecture.
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