One Century at a Time: The Legacy of Old World Tobacconists

By Audrey Pavia

Sustainable. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it means “able to continue over a period of time.” For some old world tobacco shops in the United States, you can modify that description to “…over a very long period of time.”

Tobacco shops are part of our history, connecting old and new America. Many landmark establishments have closed over the decades, leaving just a handful of historic shops left around the country. The following businesses are survivors and thrivers. They are a testament not only to their uniqueness, but also to their ability to look the future in the eye and say “Bring it on.”

Federal Cigar

Portsmouth, N.H.

Federal Cigar began in 1904 with a flagship store called United Tobacco, located in downtown Portsmouth. Several other locations in the surrounding areas soon opened but they were short-lived. A tobacconist by the name of Goodman purchased the original, remaining store in 1921, and changed the name to Federal Cigar.

The shop is currently located in a building constructed in the 1700s, and provides an old world atmosphere, with low, wood-beamed ceilings; stone walls and brick columns. The adjacent cigar bar provides a comfortable atmosphere, with rich leather seating, warm woods and a marble bar.

W. Curtis Draper Tobaconnist

Washington, D.C.

When tobacconist W. Curtis Draper founded his Washington, D.C., store in 1887, the shop was located just two blocks from its current location, which is just down the street from the White House. It catered to a small but dedicated customer base for decades.

In 1970, Draper’s became one of two tobacco stores to introduce Macanudo to the United States. Over the years, several American Presidents were known to frequent the store, including Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

In 1990, the shop was inherited by former employee John Anderson, who also happens to be the current President of the Premium Cigar Association. Anderson has since enlarged the business by taking it from a full-line tobacco shop to a brick-and-mortar store with a lucrative online business. The store also sponsors the Little Puff charity event in D.C. every year.

John Dengler Tobacconist

St. Charles, MO.

For more than 100 years, John Dengler’s has provided the St. Louis area with a variety of tobacco products, along with quality service. When the shop was founded in 1917, horse-drawn carriages were still the norm on the busy downtown streets.

When John Dengler passed away in 1944, his son John Richard Dengler took control of the shop and became an expert in cigars and pipes. His daughter and son-in-law now own the store, making Dengler’s one of the oldest continuously run family tobacco stores in the country.

Also the oldest cigar shop west of the Mississippi, Dengler’s features a wall of antique cabinets with inlaid tobacco leaves— the handiwork of the store’s original owner. The shop sells a vast selection of cigar brands

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By |2020-10-14T10:13:06-08:00October 14th, 2020|Feature Interview|0 Comments
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