History In Red

For many, many years Virginia and tobacco were synonymous. The bright leaf variety was commonly known as “Virginia Tobacco” and was considered a type superior enough to be bragged about on packaging. In the late 19th century it built and molded many Southern U.S. cities. Now this once wildly profitable crop’s cultivation has dwindled since it often kills those who use it.

Danville, VA was a beneficiary of tobacco and became a center for processing and storage. Between that and textile manufacturing the city enjoyed a nice industrial base which allowed for businesses to flourish. In the “Tobacco District” commercial structures were built through the early 20th century. These were severe but  handsome warehouses, offices, and processing facilities mostly made out of formidable looking red brick.

As the 20th century came to an end the two major industries mentioned folded up leaving Danville a much poorer place. Still, the structures were left behind as a testament to the good old days. Looking at them now a few have been converted to housing or are still in commercial use but the bulk of them are empty. The fact that they mostly all still stand is a wonder and a thrill if you get a chance to wander there.

I wandered there and took a few pictures.

  1. Bea
    October 3, 2010, 2:22 am

    As always, beautiful photographs. I actually find red bricks super amazing. That’s why I go to places with structures built with red bricks.

    1. TAO
      October 3, 2010, 10:00 pm

      I love brick structures. There is just something about them that is very neat.

  2. October 3, 2010, 6:33 am

    You town has the tobacco industry, where I was growing up it was all the textile mills that were shutting down. I don’t think there are any left now.

    1. TAO
      October 3, 2010, 9:59 pm

      Actually we have textiles up here too. Dan River Textiles was in Danville and is closed down. Closer to where I live the industry was furniture and textiles which are mostly gone too. Sad indeed.

  3. October 3, 2010, 8:55 am

    Interesting and beautiful pics. Love this kind of aged, worn brick. These ok buildings are such beauties. I wish modern industries were built at least half as handsome. Thanks for sharing your walk. 🙂

    1. TAO
      October 3, 2010, 9:56 pm

      It’s sad to see these buildings not being utilized now. What a waste.

  4. Meagan
    October 3, 2010, 9:31 pm

    Always love your wonderful pix T. You do such an amazing job capturing the essence of many places and beautiful scenes.

    1. TAO
      October 3, 2010, 9:56 pm

      I think you give me a bit too much credit but thanks anyway.

  5. AJ
    October 15, 2010, 6:59 am

    Getting on the bandwagon here: truly wonderful photos, TAO! I remember you said you have a thing for ruins and abandoned buildings. Just curious, what will become of these empty structures? I hope they won’t simply be torn down. Perhaps they can be turned into museums? Btw, that smokestack reminds me of ones we have in my province.

    1. TAO
      October 15, 2010, 11:50 am

      These buildings are in a historic district so they are somewhat protected from demolition. Actually, since the property they are on is not that valuable it would probably be too much trouble for whoever owns them to tear them down. Some buildings have found reused as condos in an effort to gentrify the area. In the long term they will probably just molder and sit little used.