Long before American Tobacco Campus built a reputation as a premiere live-work-play destination, it was one of the world’s most prosperous factories. On Saturday, Sept. 6, from 9:45am-1:30pm, more than 150 former factory workers will return to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the campus’ remarkable reboot.
These very special guests — many of whom choked up or bubbled over with stories upon hearing of the reunion — will enjoy lunch together as well as tours of one-time factory spaces now transformed into the sleek headquarters of cutting edge companies such as McKinney and Bronto.
At lunch, Jim Goodmon, the head of Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns the campus and led its transformation, will offer a tribute to the former workers. Press is welcome to join Saturday’s festivities, which will run as follows:
- 9:45 am- Guests arrive near Burt’s Bees
- 10:00-11:30. Tours start (including the American Underground, the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham, Bronto, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, McKinney and more)
- Noon – Gather for group photo
- 12:15-1:30 Lunch at The Cage (covered basketball court), featuring remarks from Jim Goodmon
The campus’ 10th anniversary is actually a story that goes back 120 years, when tobacco barons created a world-beating cigarette factory in downtown Durham. American Tobacco’s factories grew into a powerful economic engine, home to brands like Lucky Strike and thousands of jobs.
By the mid-’80s, though, the spark was gone. The factories closed and rotted. Nearly two decades later, Capitol Broadcasting Company joined with the City of Durham to reinvent the icon.
The complete schedule of American Tobacco’s 10th anniversary celebration is as follows:
- The rousing finale of the 2014 Back Porch Music on the Lawn series, featuring the ever-popular Chatham County Line on Thursday, Sept. 4, 6-8pm. (Public)
- A tenant appreciation party with DJs, ‘cirque’ entertainment and picnics on the fabled American Tobacco lawn on Friday, Sept. 5, 3:30 – 5:30pm. (Private)
- A BBQ reunion lunch for former American Tobacco factory workers and people involved in the campus’ renovation on Saturday, Sept. 6, including tours of intriguing campus spaces, including private businesses not always open to visitors. (Private)
- A public block party on Blackwell Street, Sunday, Sept. 7, 1-5pm. The celebration will bridge the original old campus to its recent additions, including Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the coming Aloft Hotel and Diamond View III with its many new restaurants. (Public)
- An ongoing art contest will eventually reward a winner with a weekend stay at the campus’ coming Aloft Durham Downtown hotel among other prizes.