Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, Watts Tobacco Warehouse, Gregson & West Peabody Streets, Durham, Durham County, NC
Gregson & West Peabody Streets, Durham, NC
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Documentation compiled after 1968.
Survey number HAER NC-5
Unprocessed field note material exists for this structure (FN-5).
Building/structure dates: 1904 initial construction
Significance: Prior to 1890, tobacco manufactures purchased tobacco at auction and had it stored for up to two years by a warehouse company until it was ready for production. In 1904, the W. Duke, Son & Co. branch of the American Tobacco Company constructed the George W. Watts Warehouse. It is likely that Albert F. Hunt of Richmond, Virginia, designed the two story brick masonry and heavy timbered structure based on a prototype developed by the American Tobacco Company. The Watts Warehouse represented a new design approach to the problems of tobacco storage. Dryness, ventilation, insects, and fire protection were major design considerations, and brick was far superior to wood frame construction from the standpoint of these important considerations. Agricultural tile, beneath a cinder and rubble mound foundation runs the length of the warehouse to channel moisture away from the building. A pitched roof and drain pipes dump water in to a storm sewer beneath the warehouse. Built before mechanical ventilation systems were adapted for warehouse design, the four independent warehouse in the Watts Complex are honeycombed wit ha network of chimneys, flues, vents, and louvered windows to insure sufficient air circulation. Each year's crop was spread throughout the warehouse in order to minimize potential damage to a single year's crop. The Watts Warehouse, and others like it, received detailed architectural and ornamental treatment. The brick work on the chimneys, the detail brick work around the cornice line, and the pilaster and window details accent the seventy-two chimneys rising from the roof. A handsome building like the Watts Warehouse was considered good advertising for the company and embellished the image of its owner.
Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress)
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