Tobacco & Durham, 1800s–1940s
Although tobacco manufacturing ended in Durham by the late 1990s, its legacy endures as an essential piece of the architectural landscape and cultural identity of the city. Durham’s first brick tobacco factory was built in 1874 by the W. T. Blackwell Company -- designed to be an imposing manufacturing presence just when early marketing and stiff competition for cigarettes really took off in the region. Tobacco factories became a hallmark of the city, with many offering tours (and free cigarettes) to Durham’s visitors. Durham’s tobacco roots have influenced everything from sports teams, artists, authors, and community festivals. Durham’s mascot -- a bull -- is a direct descendent of the Bull Durham smoking tobacco, manufactured by W. T. Blackwell and Company. Today, the original Blackwell Tobacco Factory has evolved into the American Tobacco Campus, which was the first of a series of renovations by developers over the past twenty years to rebrand and reuse the empty brick warehouses and convert them to offices, apartments, and mixed-use commercial real estate.
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