Guide to the Derek Anderson Photographs, 2006-2008


Durham-based photographer specializing in editorial and documentary photography. Collection contains 16 11x14 color digital photographs produced by Derek Anderson for his project "When the Dust Settles: A photographic survey of the former Liggett & Myers tobacco factory in Durham, NC." Photographs include captions and range in date from 2006 to 2008.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Derek Anderson photographs
Anderson, Derek L.
1 Linear Feet, 16 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

Collection contains 16 11x14 color digital photographs produced by Derek Anderson for his project "When the Dust Settles: A photographic survey of the former Liggett & Myers tobacco factory in Durham, NC." Photographs include captions and range in date from 2006 to 2008.

More information about the survey is included in the Detailed Description below.

More Biographical / Historical Info

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], Derek Anderson Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Contents of the Collection

1. When the Dust Settles: A Photographic Survey of the Former Liggett & Myers Tobacco Factory in Durham, NC, 2006-2008

1 box

Anderson's captions and introductory text are included with the photographs, and are also reproduced here:

For more than a century, the sweet scent of tobacco drifted through the streets of downtown Durham, North Carolina--the one-time world capital of cigarette production. To many, it was the smell of money. The ornate brick factories that sprung up along the main rail line served as impressive castles of industry to multiple generations of North Carolinians who enjoyed the benefits of the booming market.

By the late 1990s, the tobacco industry had gone bust in Durham and the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, which occupied a sprawling complex of factories west of downtown, moved its operations up the road to Mebane. In December 2005, D.L. Anderson began photographing inside the vacant warehouses where thousands had once worked. The Liggett & Myers factory complex had been purchased by Blue Devil Partners, a local development firm, with plans to renovate it into mixed-use residential and commercial property-ensuring the future existence of the historic buildings. The following photographs provide a parting glimpse of a once mighty empire as it underwent a massive transformation to a new era of growth for the Bull City.

Pin Doffers, O'Brien Warehouse, Second Floor, 2006

A steel beam bears the scars of a hydraulic claw that was used to disassemble the parts of tobacco storage bulkers on the second floor of O'Brien Warehouse. Gear-driven pin doffers helped move tobacco leaves through the storage bulkers on their way to be processed into “cut rag” or smoking tobacco.

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Board Room, New Cigarette Factory, First Floor, 2006

A large photograph of the New Cigarette Factory is reflected in a mirror hanging in the wood-paneled board room on the first floor of the factory. In the 1940s, Liggett & Myers created an annual promotional publication titled Tobaccoland. One entry reads, "Regularly employed by Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company for handling leaf tobacco and in the manufacture of Chesterfields, are more than thirteen thousand men and women, whose length of service averages better than ten years. Each day a Chesterfield messenger goes to Durham's new Federal Building with a certified check for approximately a quarter of a million dollars. This check is to purchase the revenue stamps needed for a single day's output at the Durham facilities." The wood paneling in the board room was removed and reinstalled in Alivia's Durham Bistro.

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Goodbye F. House, Old Cigarette Factory, 2006

A heavy fog envelops the Durham skyline as an excavator demolishes F House, where the pipe shop and other craft services were once located in the middle of the Old Cigarette Factory complex. The removal of F House allowed for the creation of a semi-enclosed courtyard, complete with a swimming pool and green spaces. The original V-shaped structure of Old Cigarette Factory, also known as Duke Factory, was once four stories tall before being “decapitated” in 1948 for a variety of reasons that make little sense today. The southern portion, the right-hand corner, of Duke Factory was built in 1884 by tobacco baron Washington Duke--his first of many ornate brick tobacco factories in Durham.

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Conveyor System, O'Brien Warehouse, Second Floor, 2006

After tobacco was conditioned and stored in bulkers on the second floor of O'Brien, it was loaded onto a system of conveyer belts, carried over Main Street and lifted to the sixth floor of the New Cigarette Factory for casing and cutting. Although Bull Durham Tobacco Company was the first major tobacco company in Durham, with around 900 employees in 1884, it was James B. Duke's focus on innovative methods of cigarette production that quickly propelled Washington Duke & Sons (later the American Tobacco Company) to become the world wide leader in cigarette manufacturing at the turn of the 20th century.

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Cooling Tower, New Cigarette Factory, 2007

A high volume of water was piped through the air conditioning and climate control systems throughout New Cigarette Factory. To reduce the temperature of the circulating water, it would be poured over a series of wooden slats arranged in an alternating pattern and cooled down by high-velocity intake fans pulling fresh air through the cooling tower located on the factory's rooftop.

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When the Dust Settles, Old Cigarette Factory, Second Floor, 2006

The accumulated paint, grime and particles from 110 years of operation sit in a pile, sandblasted from every surface of the warehouse space by workers. Soon clean, white walls will be erected to partition the space into modern apartments to be populated with people once again.

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Straight Through the Bulkers, O'Brien Warehouse, Second Floor, 2006

Row upon row of massive bulkers, or storage silos, on the second floor of the O'Brien Warehouse stored three types of tobacco; Turkish or Oriental, flue-cured domestic brightleaf and burley. They were eventually blended in different quantities to produce distinctive brands of cigarettes. During the demolition process the wooden walls of the bulkers were busted out, allowing a clear view through to the other end of the warehouse.

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X Means Demolish, O'Brien Warehouse, First Floor, 2006

The $150 million dollar historical restoration and renovation of the Liggett & Myers factory complex by Blue Devil Partners is considered to be one of the most ambitious in North Carolina history. Approximately 992,000 square feet of former factory space will be converted into mixed-use residential and commercial property when the third and final phase is completed in 2010. The L&M factory complex is listed on National Registry of historical places and Blue Devil Partners has worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service to ensure the expansion project will meet their specific guidelines for a true restoration project.

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The Cutting Floor, New Cigarette Factory, Sixth Floor, 2008

A pair of gloves are covered in fine tobacco dust near a row of machines that sliced strip tobacco into “cut rag” to fill millions of cigarettes on the floors below. Running at full bore, one Protos Cigarette Maker machine could produce 7,200 cigarettes a minute. A plaque on the front of the New Cigarette Factory reads, “Dedicated to Millions That Enjoyed the Cigarette That Satisfies: Chesterfield.”

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Rooftop Boardwalk, New Cigarette Factory, 2008

A series of wooden walkways was installed on the roof of New Cigarette Factory to protect against wear and tear on the rubber membrane. For many years the billboard on top of the factory featured a gigantic pack of Chesterfield cigarettes next to the logo--the exact location of that pack is unknown today.

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The Turkish Unit, O'Brien Warehouse, Second Floor, 2006

The Turkish Unit was a large vacuum chamber designed to moisten and heat tobacco, specifically the small-leaved Turkish variety, by forcing steam through the leaves and opening their pores to prepare it for production. Turkish tobacco, or Oriental tobacco, was grown in Turkey and the Near East, then shipped to Durham where U.S. Customs agents inspected each batch. This vacuum unit was built by Chicago Bridge & Iron Works in 1939.

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Steel Patch, Cobb Warehouse, Third Floor, 2006

Around 3000 female employees of Liggett & Myers, nearly all African-American, would strip the stems from tobacco leaves by hand inside Cobb Warehouse. It was a seasonal task, starting in September and continuing into the next year. They would wear blue dress uniforms, and when the whistle blew, would file out and walk two by two up the sidewalk to the Five Points neighborhood. "The sidewalk just about turned blue," said former employee Charlie Bock. In the second half of the 20th century, the task was automated and stems would be saved to be incorporated into the final smoking tobacco blend.

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New Light, Cobb Warehouse, Third Floor, 2006

It was out of these windows that employees watched the Liggett & Myers offices being moved across Main Street on an elaborate system of rails to make room for the New Cigarette Factory (on the left) to be built in 1948. A postcard advertising the new factory read, "You will enjoy a visit to this modern cigarette factory and see how L&M, Chesterfield and Lark cigarettes are made."

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North Stairwell, Cobb Warehouse, 2006

Once the climate controls inside Cobb Warehouse were turned off, the paint quickly began to peel from the walls inside the four-story structure. James B. Duke's mighty American Tobacco Company finished building the Cobb Warehouse in 1899, the same year they acquired the smaller, St. Louis based, Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company. Twenty-two years later the U.S. Supreme Court found the American Tobacco Company guilty of being business monopoly, a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. As a result of that ruling, American Tobacco Company was divided into four companies: the American Tobacco Company, R.J. Reynolds, P. Lorillard, and Liggett & Myers Tobacco.

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Tobacco Carts, New Cigarette Factory, Third Floor, 2008

Any leftover bits of tobacco that did not move through the factory on conveyor belts were loaded into carts and pushed to the proper place for producing reconstituted tobacco. The painted labels on the side of the carts denote a particular blend of tobacco or department within the sprawling factory.

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Storage Bin Controls, Cobb Warehouse, Second Floor, 2006

"If you worked for Liggett or American and you walked into a grocery store or any business, you were treated with respect," said former employee Joe Cohn. "You made good money. You kept the city running."

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Historical Note

Derek Lee Anderson is a freelance photojournalist documenting the Southeastern part of the United States and is based in Durham, North Carolina. Recent areas of focus include the Mississippi River and Delta, former Tobacco factories and small farming practices in North Carolina and Illinois. Anderson has completed assignments for selected publications such as TIME, ESPN The Magazine, AARP and is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal.

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The Derek Anderson Photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Meghan Lyon, January 2011

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, January 2011

Accession 2008-0279 is described in this finding aid.