Since 1986, Americans have been celebrating the life, work, and impact of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a federal holiday. More recently, it’s become more than a day off, but a day on — the National MLK Day of Service.
The Phillips Packing Company began in Cambridge, Maryland in 1902 with a single plant and went on to become the largest employer in Dorchester County and one of the most recognized names in seafood. As the company expanded, so did its legacy on the Eastern Shore through both buildings and stories. A former Six-to-Fix program project, Preservation Maryland supported the effort to revitalize the Packing Company by identifying funding to support the critical repair of the iconic smokestacks and increasing public awareness of this important preservation project on Maryland’s eastern shore.
Our Vice President Katie Parks is featured in this Maryland Public Television (MPT) special that tells the story of Cambridge, Maryland – “from boomtown that went bust to a modern hub for innovation poised to revitalize the landscape and economic future of the region.”
Did you know? That iconic blue jar of Noxzema was invented and nurtured into an international company by Marylander George A. Bunting in the early 20th century. And now one of the company’s historic factory buildings is being transformed into new apartments and artists lofts in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore City.
BRIEF HISTORY OF NOXZEMA
The story of Noxzema begins in 1899 when Marylander George A. Bunting graduated the Maryland College of Pharmacy in Baltimore City. After graduating, Bunting worked in Oscar Ross’s drugstore on North Avenue near Charles Street. In 1904, Bunting purchased the store from Ross and proceeded to create his own creams, lotions, syrups, and remedies.
By 1909, Bunting began to experiment in creating vanishing creams and other medications in search of an alternative to the greasy, tallow-based creams that were on the market. It took some time, but Bunting eventually had found a formula that he liked and named it, “Dr. Bunting’s Sunburn Cream.” It became a success and customers loved it for the few ingredients it had: clove oil, lime water, menthol, eucalyptus oil, and camphor. For a few years, Bunting produced as much as he could, and distributed it in small blue jars, which is also a Baltimore novelty and it is still sold in blue jars today.
Around the beginning of 1916, Bunting knew he had to expand his operations. He bought a small manufacturing plant in the 1800 block of Charles Street, where he continued to make his cream, now named Noxzema. It is said that Bunting changed the name of the cream after a customer had told him, “That cream knocked my eczema.” Hence, no exzema – Noxzema.
With a great product in hand, Bunting used savvy marketing to transform Noxzema into a national product by the 1920s, and by the 1940s, it was estimated to have been used by four million people. Bunting retired from his business in 1948, but the firm didn’t stop producing popular products. They continued and expanded into making shaving cream and other personal care products, and the Cover Girl make up line. The firm was renamed to the Noxell Corporation in 1966, and eventually merged with Procter and Gamble Company in 1989. Alberto-Culver bought the rights to the brand in 2008 from Procter & Gamble and operated the line of skin-care products until Alberto-Culver was acquired by Unilever in 2010.
PRESERVATION IN PROGRESS
The Noxema building on Falls Cliff Road in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore City is currently undergoing a transformation into artist studios and apartments and will be known as The Fox Building, named for a post-Noxzema tenant. Many of the building’s original features are being retained and restored such as original maple wood plank flooring, glass block windows, soaring ceilings, and much more.
MADE IN MARYLAND
Maryland has a proud industrial heritage including being the birthplace of game-changing mechanical inventions and hosting major milestones. In this Made in Maryland series, Preservation Maryland and the Baltimore Museum of Industry, will bring you many, “I didn’t know that was invented here!” moments. The Baltimore Museum of Industry celebrates Maryland’s industrial legacy and shows how innovation fuels ongoing progress. The author is Ross Bater, a Waxter Intern at Preservation Maryland.