The history of the cookie factory tower in Richmond, VA

The landmark off West Broad Street has a nearly 100-year history as a former production plant and current apartment complex.

An overhead view of the Interbake Foods building with the "Home of FFV Cookies and Crackers" sign

The factory shut down in 2006 and was vacant until 2013.

Photo by @cwclarke_photos on Instagram

The promise of fresh cookies + crackers still looms over West Broad Street near Scott’s Addition, but the old Southern Biscuit Company plant has had cold ovens since 2006.

Built in 1927, the tower began producing baked goods out of its main building — six stories of reinforced concrete. The company expanded the plant four times over the next few decades.

Around the 1930s, Southern Biscuit Company changed its branding to Famous Foods of Virginia, and added a distinctive sign and water tower which still sit atop the building.

A black and white image of cookies on a conveyor belt.

A conveyor belt processes cookies at the factory.

Photo via Virginia State Chamber of Commerce; Library of Virginia Picture Collection

Inside the factory were two rotating rack ovens that were two stories high. Cookies baked as they rotated along circular racks, winding through the oven to ensure an even bake.

The factory was well-known for its production of Girl Scout Cookies. Southern Biscuit Company became the first officially licensed baker for the scouts in 1939.

A few more mergers saw Southern Biscuit become part of George Weston Ltd. in 1946 + adopt the Interbake Foods name in 1967.

An overhead shot of the Science Museum (formerly train station) and FFV factory.

The production plant, pictured in 1978.

Photo via VCU Libraries Digital Collections

When Interbake moved its headquarters to a new facility in Front Royal in 2006, the Richmond factory closed. Most of the building was emptied during the move, but the enormous ovens remained. The building was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register as well as the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Now, the iconic part of Richmond’s industrial skyline is home to the Cookie Factory Lofts, an apartment complex. A developer bought the building in 2013, after years of vacancy.

Want to learn the history of other recognizable Richmond buildings? We got the story behind the WTVR TV Tower back in August. Let us know what historic site we should cover next.

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