Oldest Businesses in Each State

As a small, local business, we appreciate legacy. We appreciate businesses that sink their roots into their community and deliver consistent service over decades, and perhaps centuries. It’s no small feat.

Most of the oldest businesses in the US got their start in the early days of their home state’s existence. Those that have survived to this day cover a diverse range of industries and sizes, some with recognizable names, others relatively unknown.

The longest surviving business in the US is Shirley Plantation in Virginia. The plantation was founded in 1613 as a tobacco grower, and currently operates as a farm and National Historic Landmark tourist destination. Shirley Plantation is owned and operated by direct descendants of its original builders.

The oldest business still operating in California is Ducommun, a company that provides manufacturing services to the aerospace, defense and industrial markets. Ducommun got its start in 1849 as a hardware supply store, during the Gold Rush, before transitioning into aluminum manufacturing and supplying what was at the time a newly-emerging aerospace industry.

Also in the industrial manufacturing space, Rowland Company has been operating out of Pennsylvania since 1732. Rowland started off manufacturing shovels and springs for wagons, and is now a specialty distributor and fabricator of industrial power transmission components.

The oldest business in Illinois––C.D. Peacock Jewelry––is also Chicago’s oldest existing retailer. It opened in 1837, the year Chicago officially incorporated as a city. C.D. Peacock has maintained a reputation for selling to the most notorious players in Chicago, since its early days.

When you think of Texas, you might imagine cattle ranching as the state’s oldest business… but sugar? Indeed—Imperial Sugar holds the record. Started in 1843, Imperial now operates in several states and sells products under the Imperial Sugar and Dixie Crystals brand names.

Reaching back into the 1600s, Kenyon’s Grist Mill in Rhode Island began operation in 1632. The company operates a grain mill that turns whole berries of grain or whole kernels of corn into meal or flour. They currently operate in a vintage 1886 grist mill and use the original granite millstones quarried in-state.

In Georgia, The Pirate’s House opened its doors in 1753... and has yet to close them! This pirate-themed restaurant began as an inn for seafarers. Today, it’s known for serving hearty Southern food to locals and tourists alike.

Utah’s oldest business––Deseret News––is a newspaper owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and aims to be a leading news brand for faith and family-oriented audiences in Utah and around the world.

Breitbach’s Country Dining holds the record for being the oldest business in Iowa. This family-run, country-style tavern opened in 1852 by federal permit issued from President Millard Fillmore. The original building was destroyed by fire in 2006, but was later rebuilt. The business continues to be operated by Breitbach family members.

Van Dusen Mercantile was established in Oregon in 1849 and now goes by Van Dusen Beverages. Today, the company bottles Pepsi and Dr Pepper, as well as a variety of other beverages, including bottled waters, sports drinks, juices and teas.
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