Between the Belt Line Railway and Loudon Avenue, is the ca. 1893 Shelby Bros. Tobacco Company building at 787 North Limestone Street. Excavation for the building’s foundation was reported on February 13, 1893, on “land adjoining the Hercules ice factory” according to that day’s issue of the Lexington Leader.
The 1896 Sanborn map identified the structure as the Shelby Bros. Twist Tobacco Factory. And another Sanborn map shortly after the turn of the century noted the building’s role in the tobacco industry. Then, it was noted as “David Reed Occupant as Tobacco Re-Handling House, W.J. Loughridge (Owner)” Later, the structure experienced a change of industry according to yet another Sanborn map: “Wholesale Beer and Soft Drinks.” It is not surprising to see the change in the building’s role, considering much of Lexington’s tobacco industry shifted to the south of Lexington anchored by countless warehouses and the Liggett and Myers Rehandling Plant on Bolivar Street.
Tobacco was a staple American industry with international demand. The Bluegrass region’s climate and soil is well suited toward the crop’s growth and entrepreneurs took advantage. Access to railways and navigable waterways made the growing, handling, twisting, and packaging of chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, and snuff a boon for the local market.