American Snuff Company Historic District

Status: Preserved

Address: 46 Keel Avenue, 700 North Front Street, and 701 North Main Street, Memphis

Built: 1912 to 1952

Architectural Style: Late 19th and early 20th century American Movement Commercial and Modernist styles

Original Function/Purpose: Manufacturing

The American Snuff Company Historic District was placed on the National Register on July 25, 2018.

History: The American Snuff Company Historic District consists of a nine-building complex near the former Illinois Central Railroad tracks. The complex includes seven structures making up the factory facing east along Front Street; prominent in the photos above is the so-called “Tin Can Factory” section on the corner of Keel and Front (top, 2018; bottom, 1950 showing pickets during a labor strike). In addition, a warehouse and an executive office building fill in the block between Front and Main Streets. The architect is unknown. Spur tracks once connected factory and warehouse to the railroad. The interior of the factory “has never been altered significantly, retaining its distinctive factory appearance with large expanses of open factory concrete or wood floors, the exposed structural members, freight elevator, wooden and steel stairways . . . and continues to provide direct association, feeling, and even smell of an early snuff factory.” The company was started by a Knoxville grocer, Martin J. Condon, Sr., who relocated to Memphis and built the factory. By 1955 the company was the second largest snuff manufacturer in the U.S., employing 500 workers at the Memphis plant. It diversified into other areas of agribusiness in the 1950s and ‘60s, but continued to use the buildings until 2012. “The new owner plans to rehabilitate the building into a mixed use residential and retail complex.”

 

Maps:

Outline of the American Snuff Company Historic District from its National Register nomination.

Map of the district used in its National Register nomination.

 

City Council District: 7

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 8

 

DON NEWMAN