Harper-Presnail Cigar Company


Just beyond Central Park, you can still see the handsome four-storey brick factory built in 1913 to house the Harper-Presnail Cigar Company. William Harper and William and Thomas Presnail had worked at the giant Tuckett’s Tobacco factory near the corner of Queen and York Streets before setting out on their own.

Their new plant was specially designed for cigar production. The interior walls were covered with small wooden strips covered with a wire screen. In the summer, this allowed breezes to blow freely over the finished cigars, keeping them in prime condition. When the weather turned cold, ideal conditions could be maintained by fitting special panels of matched boarding over the mesh walls.

When cigar making ended here in 1929, William Harper concentrated on his wholesale tobacco business. Five years later, though, he returned to cigar making. On the second floor of his King Street West store, he employed 25 skilled cigar makers, who hand-rolled high-quality cigars. Harper boasted that this new venture would be “a revival of handicraft in an age of machine work.”

The Felton Brush Company moved into the building in 1946; it produced industrial brushes.

Architect Lindsey Wardell’s design for this building incorporated a number of notable architectural features, including a heavily rusticated base, an applied cornice at the roofline, some brickwork details and brick pilasters between groups of three windows.