History of the American Tobacco South Richmond Complex

The original American Tobacco Company was formed in 1890 from the conglomeration of five cigarette manufacturing companies, including Allen and Ginter of Richmond, and four companies based in New York.  These companies produced 90% of all cigarettes manufactured in 1890.  In 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the company violated the Sherman Anti-trust Act and dissolved the organization.   The business was divided among 14 companies including RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, Liggett & Meyers Company, and Lorillard Company.

The American Tobacco Company continued with cigarette production and developed the Lucky Strike brand.  The American Tobacco Company is now defunct, having been purchased by Brown & Williamson of Louisville in 1994.

The South Richmond Complex was originally 25 acres, approximately 14 of which became the City Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Operations Center located on Jeff Davis Highway at Maury Street.

The Port City apartment community is located on the remaining 11-acre industrial site that includes four large interconnected brick buildings and two rows of one-story metal warehouses.

The research department, located in the DPU buildings at Maury Street, developed the activated charcoal filter that was first used in the Tareyton brand as well as the mentholated filter used in the Montclair cigarette.  The laboratory was the first to print nicotine test results on packages of Carleton cigarettes.

The South Richmond Stemmery (1936), where tobacco leaves were “sweated” and their stems removed, is the 3-story, red brick structure attached to the southern end of the warehouses fronting Jeff Davis.

The former Re-Drying Plant (1926-29), is located on the southern end of the property adjacent to Kern Street.  The tobacco warehouses were constructed in 1939.

The American Tobacco Company operated a cigarette making plant and headquarters facility in Tobacco Row, east of Shockoe Bottom, as well as a major facility in Durham, NC


Site photos from the 2015 Historical Preservation Certification Application