Building Description American Cigar Company, Trenton New Jersey

The American Cigar Company building stands at 176 Division Street in the Chambersburg neighborhood of Trenton, New Jersey. The 4½-story building has an L-shaped footprint and is constructed of brick clad in painted stucco. It was constructed in six phases between 1902 and ca. 1975. Section #1 is a 4 ½-story, 49,320-square-foot building constructed in 1902 for $123,300. Section #2 is a 4 ½-story, 23,445-square-foot building constructed in 1908 for $58,612. It is east of and perpendicular to the east elevation of Section #1, creating an L-shape. There is no stylistic or material difference between these two phases of construction. Section #3 is a 1-story, 552 square foot, brick shed constructed in ca. 1915 for $1,656. It is located to the northwest of the intersection of Sections #1 and #2. Section #4 is a 1-story, 356 square foot, brick shed constructed in ca. 1915 for $890. It is located to the west of Section #2 and to the north of Section #3. Section north of the east end of the north elevation of Section #1. The western portion of Section #5 was demolished in ca. 1975 when a 5-story brick elevator tower and an open loading dock were constructed to its west.

The American Cigar Company building stands on a small and flat rectangular lot bounded by College Street to the south, Division Street to the west and paved parking lots to the north and east. The site is devoid of any landscape features other than concrete sidewalks to the south and west. The building stands about one mile east of Route 129 and two miles east of the Delaware River. The surrounding neighborhood primarily consists of a mix of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century two- and three-story brick row houses. The Immaculate Conception church and school are located directly across the street to the west.

On the west and south (primary) elevations, there is a bluestone stringcourse between the raised basement and 1st floor and a cove molding clad in stucco between the 3rd and 4th floors. The second, third, seventh and eighth bays from the north on the west elevation and the first and second from the west on the south elevation project slightly from the remainder of the elevation and the windows are set within a slightly recessed, rectangular panel on the 1st through 3rd floors and an arched panel on the 4th floor. The sixteenth bay from the west on the south elevation also projects slightly from the remainder of the elevation and the windows are set within a slightly recessed panel with arched crenellations on the 1st through 3rd floors and a rectangular panel on the 4th floor. All of the windows have bluestone sills and there is an aluminum cap along the roofline. Additionally, the windows in the basement through 3rd floors have slightly arched heads and the 4th-floor windows are set within a recessed rectangular panel and have fully arched heads. The majority of the window openings have been infilled with painted concrete block. Some of the original windows remain visible from the interior and they consist of 9/9 and 12/12, double-hung wood windows and Kalamein casement windows with 3- and 6-lights.

The west elevation is divided into two portions: the southern half, which is part of the 1902 building and parallel to the sidewalk, and the northern half, which is part of the 1908 building and significantly recessed from the sidewalk. The southern half of the west elevation is eight bays wide. The building's primary entrance is located in the northernmost bay. The entrance extends from street level to halfway up the 1st floor level and consists of a non-historic, single-leaf metal door. The door has a painted textured stucco surround and painted bluestone step below. Above the door is a non-historic, wood canopy with asphalt shingles. Around the entire entrance is the original segmental arched brick surround with egg and dart moldings and cardinal point, bluestone keystones. The remaining openings in the bay are located between the 1st and 2nd floors, between the 2nd and 3rd floors and at the 4th floor. These openings, as well as the remaining bays on the elevation contain partially and fully infilled arched window openings, as described above. The northern half of the west elevation is seven bays wide. In the basement, the fourth through seventh bays from the north are filled with the adjacent 1-story, ca. 1915 addition. It is constructed of painted cinderblock with a metal, shed roof. In front of the sixth bay from the north is a metal smokestack that extends above the roofline. The remaining bays on the elevation contain partially and fully infilled arched window openings, as described above. The south elevation is twenty bays wide, the four easternmost of which are part of the 1908 addition. A single-leaf metal door with a painted textured stucco surround and bluestone step is located in the sixteenth bay from the west on the 1st floor. Around the entire entrance is the original segmental arched brick surround with egg and dart moldings and cardinal point, bluestone keystones. The remaining openings in the bay are located between the 1st and 2nd floors, between the 2nd and 3rd floors and at the 4th floor. The 3rd floor has no openings but contains crenellated plasterwork. The remaining openings, as well as the remaining bays on the elevation contain partially and fully infilled arched window openings, as described above.

The east elevation is fourteen bays wide, all of which are part of the 1908 addition. Metal, garage-style doors below a continuous, non-historic, wood canopy with asphalt shingles are located in the fourth and sixth bays from the south in the basement and 1st floors. The remaining bays on the elevation contain partially and fully infilled arched window openings, as described above.

The north elevation is divided into two portions: the western half, which is parallel to the northern boundary and part of the 1908 building and the eastern half, which is significantly recessed from the northern boundary and part of the 1902 building. The eastern half of the north elevation is ten bays wide. A projecting portion containing the freight elevators and bathrooms are located between the sixth and seventh bays from the east. A second projecting portion, which contains a stair tower, is located to the east of the easternmost bay. The western projection is divided into two parts, with the western part being clad in painted stucco and original to the building and the eastern part being of red brick and part of the ca. 1975 addition. On the west elevation are two infilled window openings on each floor and on the north elevation is one large opening on the 1st floor. The eastern projection has no openings and is also original to the building. The ca. 1975 loading dock, and ca. 1915 and 1927 additions are located in front of the sixth through tenth bays from the east on the basement and 1st floors. These additions are built of painted concrete block and wood with metal shed roofs and various, irregular openings. None have any architecturally significant features. The remaining bays on the elevation contain partially and fully infilled arched window openings, as described above. The western half of the north elevation is four bays wide and all bays contain partially and fully infilled arched window openings, as described above.

At the west end of the 1902 building, three, parallel, sawtooth, glazed metal skylights have been covered in plywood. An elevated metal platform occupies the southeast corner of the 1902 building and there is a skeletal metal cellular phone tower in the northeast corner. At the north end of the 1908 addition four, parallel, sawtooth, glazed metal skylights have also been covered in plywood. Lastly, there is a brick elevator penthouse with a shed roof above the ca. 1975 exterior elevator shaft. The remainder of the roof is flat.

The interior of the American Cigar Company Building is primarily open on each floor in keeping with its use as a tobacco processing and warehouse facility. The open spaces originally accommodated humidor areas, packing and shipping areas and space for worktables. There is also the occasional small, enclosed area, including at the west end of the basement in the 1902 building, the north end of the 1st floor of the 1908 addition and the northeast corner of the 1902 building on all floors. The former was used as an office space and the latter were used as bathroom and shower spaces. The finishes include exposed and partially painted brick walls, wood floors of ash and painted wood ceilings with painted wood girders and round metal columns in an axial grid running from east to west in the 1902 building and from north to south in the 1908 addition. Separating the 1902 building and the 1908 building are arched, double-leaf metal fire doors with metal hinges and sliding metal fire doors on metal tracks. In the basement, the floors are of concrete and the walls and columns are of partially painted brick.

The building has two stairways and two freight elevators. The stairways are located in the northwest and southeast corners of the 1902 section and are U-return with metal treads, concrete risers and a wood handrail with wood plank balusters. The elevators are located in the center of the north elevation of the 1902 building. The eastern freight elevator was added in ca. 1975 and the western freight elevator is original to the building. All of the interior circulation extends between the basement and the 4th floors.

This method of interior construction and arrangement of spaces reflects the most modern trends in industrial construction of the period, largely developed in response to the fires that plagued earlier industrial buildings. Around 1880, an association of mutual fire insurance companies formulated a number of principles to guide fire-resistive factory design, including the use of masonry walls, the separation of horizontal from vertical spaces (exterior stair towers separated by fire-resistive doors), and the implementation of slow burning construction techniques.

Slow burning construction referred to the use of large dimension timbers and the use of plank floors. It was recognized that large-dimension timbers tended to char to a certain depth, at which point the charcoal slowed combustion, allowing the member to stay in place longer. Another characteristic of slow burning construction was the use of flooring constructed of planks three to four inches thick with a finish floor of one-and-a-quarter-inch thick boards. This system of flooring was found to be the most fire-resistive and thus was required by the fire insurance association for 19th-century industrial buildings.