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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

127-7045 Philip Morris Blended Leaf Complex Historic District

Philip Morris Blended Leaf Complex Historic District
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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 03/16/2017

NRHP Listing Date 06/05/2017

The Philip Morris Blended Leaf Complex, covering 12 acres, is important in the context of Richmond’s tobacco history and exemplifies a modern horizontally-arranged production and storage facility, a form typically associated with the evolving built environment of tobacco-related processing during the 20th century. Philip Morris initially developed the complex in 1952 as a tobacco processing facility and quickly expanded by 1959 to meet the explosive demand for ready-rolled, blended leaf cigarettes. The complex was part of an ambitious expansion plan that by 1983 propelled the company to the top position in the industry with the world’s #1-selling cigarette brand (Marlboro). The district’s buildings, utilitarian in function and design, housed innovative mass-production and flavor processing equipment that represented advances in the industry that moved the company ahead of its competitors. Two buildings, the Green Leaf Stemmery (1951-52) and the Blended Leaf Plant (1957-59), along with three other historically contributing buildings within the district—and a Boiler House exhaust stack with the company’s name emblazoned in white-accented bricks—represent Philip Morris’s embrace of the mass production of cigarettes to meet increasing demand, as well as scientific innovations that simultaneously made more efficient use of the tobacco leaf, enhanced delivery of nicotine through tobacco additives, and safeguarded the consistency of its proprietary tobacco blends for products now selling nationwide and internationally. The period of significance for the district spans from 1951 to 1964.


Abbreviations:
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

Updated August 23, 2018