The Oldest Business in Every State
There’s no exact recipe for success when it comes to business longevity. Some of America’s oldest companies have also been owned by the same family for their entire history. Others managed to survive fires, economic downturns, Prohibition, and anything and everything that might bring down an otherwise well-run shop or restaurant.
One constant among the list of the oldest business in each state plus D.C. is that no matter the industry, these long-lasting companies are beloved by their communities and trusted by their patrons.
There are a lot of restaurants and bars on the list, and a good number of farms and jewelers. A few newspapers and funeral homes appear, along with a ferry service. And the oldest business in the U.S. predates America’s founding by more than 150 years.
Locations: Birmingham and Mobile
Prussian immigrant Frederick Bromberg established his eponymous store just 18 years after Alabama became a state. It’s one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the U.S. and is currently operated by the sixth generation of Brombergs.
Alaska: Alaska Commercial Co.
Locations: 33 stores statewide
Type: Grocery and general
This chain traces its roots to Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, who in 1776 gave trading rights to its predecessor, the Russian American Trading Co. When the U.S. bought Alaska from Russia in 1867, San Francisco merchants Lewis Gerstle and Louis Sloss purchased the trading company and since then it has been operating stores across Alaska under its current name.
Arizona: The Palace
Type: Restaurant and bar
The Palace opened in 1877 as one of 40-plus bars on Prescott’s aptly named Whiskey Row (there are far fewer now). It was a favorite watering hole of the Earp brothers, Wyatt and Virgil, and their friend Doc Holliday. It’s often named on American best-of bar lists, and today the actual bar is all that remains from the original saloon.
Arkansas: Rose Law Firm
Location: Little Rock
Type: Law practice
Rose was established 16 years before Arkansas’ statehood and is the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi River. The partnership agreement between Robert Crittenden and Chester Ashley still hangs in the office’s boardroom.
Location: Santa Ana
Type: Aerospace manufacturer
Originally a hardware store, Ducommun was integral to the birth of the aerospace industry in Southern California in the early 20th century. Today the company manufactures electronic and structural systems for aerospace, defense and industrial markets.
Colorado: R&R Market
Type: Grocery and general
The original store was a modest 20-by-40 foot structure with 25-inch thick adobe walls sitting atop a rock and mud foundation. R&R holds a special place in the Hispanic and overall history of Colorado. Today it’s operated by Felix Romero, a descendant of original owner Dario Gallegos.
Connecticut: Field View Farm
Type: Dairy and farm equipment manufacturer
Twelve generations of the Hine family have operated this farm, which is the fourth-oldest business in the U.S. In 1996, it branched out from its dairy operation and began selling farm machinery after the business was nearly lost in a devastating fire.
Originally a gunpowder mill, DuPont is now the world’s fourth-largest chemical company and has been involved in crucial industrial breakthroughs in world history. DuPont is also responsible for developing many things common to our daily lives, such as polymers like Lycra, synthetic paints and refrigerants.
Florida: Pensacola Hardware
Only two families, the Averys and the Martins, have operated this hardware store in Florida’s panhandle. The store credits its longevity to its willingness to change with the times and offer customers exactly what they want.
Georgia: The Pirates' House
Steeped in history and lore, this restaurant is also located in the oldest building in Georgia. Before it was a restaurant and inn, it was America’s first public experimental garden for developing improvements to food production and agribusiness. Robert Louis Stevenson reportedly stayed there while writing “Treasure Island.”
Type: Land development
Originally founded as a sugar manufacturer that at its peak was considered one of Hawaii’s Big Five companies, Amfac now develops land on Maui and is traded publicly under the name Kaanapali Land.
Idaho: Joyce Livestock Co.
Location: Owyhee County
Type: Cattle ranch
Five generations of the Joyce-Nettleton family have operated this cattle ranch on 11,000 acres of land (it’s licensed to graze on 120,000 more acres). It seems the family has also been battling the Bureau of Land Management over water and grazing rights for just as long.
Illinois: C.D. Peacock
Founded by an English immigrant as a jewelry and watch repair store, C.D. Peacock survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and now operates numerous stores around the city. The shop was founded at the same time as the city, which then only had a population of 4,000 residents.
Indiana: Register Publications
Type: Newspaper publisher
This publishing house has weeklies and dailies scattered across Indiana and Ohio, but it’s oldest and original paper is The Dearborn County Register. Publishing on Thursdays, it has a circulation of 3,500 that is mostly through paid subscriptions and remains a trusted source of news for the community.
Iowa: Breitbach's Country Dining
Type: Restaurant and bar
This casual restaurant has been owned by the Breitbach family since 10 years after its opening and was destroyed and rebuilt by back-to-back fires in 2007 and 2008. It’s known for its pies and fare like sauerkraut, sausages and coleslaw.
Kansas: Davis Funeral Chapel
Type: Funeral home
Seven generations of the Davis family have operated this funeral home. Among its many clients are some of the most infamous criminals in Kansas and U.S. history, including Bugs Moran and George “Machine Gun” Kelly of St. Valentine’s Day Massacre fame, and Richard Hickock and Perry Smith of “In Cold Blood” fame.
Kentucky: Jim Beam
Type: Alcohol distillery
Arguably the most recognizable bourbon label in the world, Jim Beam has been produced by seven generations of the Böhm family. These German immigrants would later change the spelling of their name to be easily pronounceable by Americans. The label is now owned by Suntory Holdings of Japan.
Louisiana: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Location: New Orleans
Fittingly located on Bourbon Street, this is one of the oldest structures in New Orleans and dates to the city’s Spanish Colonial period. The building is rumored to have been used by brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte for their smuggling operation in the late 1700s. The current owners like to say the lore is “a gumbo of truth” with “French, Spanish, African, Cajun and American embellishments.”
Maine: Seaside Inn
The Gooch family has operated this inn since more than 100 years before the establishment of the U.S., making it one of the oldest continually operating businesses in the country and the oldest hotel. It was originally a residence for workers who ferried people across the Kennebunk River.
Maryland: Middleton Tavern
Maryland’s oldest business plays a prominent role in America’s most important early history, having been frequented by the Founding Fathers. It was the go-to dining destination after the resignation of Gen. Washington's commission in 1783, the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1784 and the Annapolis Convention of 1786 that preceded the Philadelphia Convention the following year where the U.S. Constitution was drafted.
Massachusetts: Barker’s Farm
Location: North Andover
Type: Farm and orchard
Eleven generations of Barkers have operated this orchard and farm, and it is the fifth-oldest business in the U.S. Fruits, vegetables, other foods and plants are grown there and can be purchased on site. It’s famous for its apples.
Michigan: George Jerome & Co.
Type: Civil engineering
Long before Detroit became the car capital of America, the Jerome family established its business there and became a major driver of the city’s development, essentially crafting its borders and street designs. The family still operates the business.
Minnesota: Fred W. Radde & Sons
Location: New Germany
This has been a family business since its founding in the late 19th century. Fred Radde III still conducts live auctions, his preferred method, but has adapted to the times and added online, phone and proxy bidding.
Mississippi: King’s Tavern
Type: Restaurant and bar
Originally a tavern and inn, King’s has become a farm-to-table restaurant and bar in recent years. It’s located in the oldest building in Natchez. The murderous Harpe brothers liked to frequent the tavern in the late 18th century.
Missouri: O’Malley’s Pub
The riverbanks of Weston used to house many breweries, but O’Malley’s is the only one left from that era. Today it’s part of the Weston Brewing Co., which still uses the 60-foot deep beer cellar for its operations and for entertaining patrons.
Montana: Bale of Hay Saloon
Location: Virginia City
Visitors to this purportedly haunted saloon get a heavy dose of the Old West when they walk through the doors. It was a grocery and liquor store until 1890, then became a saloon. And it stood empty from 1908 to 1945 when it was restored as the bar it is today.
Nebraska: First National Bank
This bank was founded by the Kountze brothers during the Panic of 1857, which was the first economic crisis on a global scale. They originally traded in gold dust and bison hides, and their vault was locked with a leather strap. This meant that at least one brother was always sleeping at the bank with a shotgun at his side.
Nevada: Genoa Bar
Drinking establishments of various names have always existed here, and it was also a brothel during its early days. Original features include half of the bar and a red oil lamp that is still lit once a year on New Year's Eve.
New Hampshire: Tuttle's Red Barn
Tuttle's was one of the two oldest family-run farms in the country until it was sold in 2013. The farm is the subject of a popular children's history book by the same name, and today operates as a country store.
New Jersey: Barnsboro Inn
Type: Restaurant and bar
True to its name, the Barnsboro Inn was once a hotel and tavern with a mandate to stable the horses of travelers, but decades ago narrowed its focus to food and drink. The original cedar log cabin erected in 1720 remains on the property.
New Mexico: El Farol
Location: Santa Fe
It might seem odd that the state’s oldest business is a Spanish restaurant, but it makes sense when you consider the centuries-long colonial history of New Mexico. The restaurant is also the subject of the famous game theory called the El Farol Bar Problem.
New York: Saunderskill Farm
Type: Farm and market
For nearly 340 years, the Schoonmaker family has farmed these lands in upstate New York. Today the farm offers year-round produce and flowers thanks to the corn fuel-powered greenhouses that operate in the winter, and its baked goods are particularly popular.
North Carolina: Tavern in Old Salem
This restaurant is particularly famous for its version of pot pie called Moravian chicken pie, which is filled only with chunks of chicken and a rich broth. It’s a true colonial dish that has been served at the tavern since its beginnings and is considered a staple of North Carolina cuisine.
North Dakota: The Bismarck Tribune
About three years after its founding, this newspaper became famous for publishing the first stories about Custer’s last stand at Little Bighorn — in fact, the reporter who covered the news, Mark H. Kellogg, died in the battle. The Tribune is a Pulitzer-winning paper as well, having received the award in 1938 for a series titled, “Self-Help in the Dust Bowl.”
Ohio: The Golden Lamb
Due to widespread illiteracy at the time, the sign for this hotel originally only featured an image of a golden lamb. Over the years, 12 presidents have visited the property, the first of whom was John Quincy Adams. The hotel also contains several restaurants that serve traditional and modern American cuisine, and the rooms and common areas are decorated in the style of the Shaker era.
Oklahoma: BC Clark Jewelers
Location: Oklahoma City
Originally founded on American Indian territory, this jeweler is most well known in Oklahoma for its long-running jingle announcing holiday sales. It debuted in 1956 and always returns for five weeks starting the evening of Thanksgiving. The store claims it’s the longest running jingle in the U.S., and for locals it’s a point of pride and mockery.
Oregon: Van Dusen Beverages
Type: Beverage bottler
Locals have been getting their Pepsi and Dr Pepper from Van Dusen since 1947, and the company proudly bills itself as the world’s smallest Pepsi bottler. The business first opened as a general store and now bottles water, juice, tea, coffee, energy and sports drinks, and soda.
Pennsylvania: The Rowland Co.
Type: Transmission products manufacturer
What began as a shovel-making business has turned into a distributor and manufacturer of industrial power transmission products. The business, which was owned by the Rowland family until the 1950s, was once located in a section of Philadelphia known as Rowlandville due to the jobs the plant supported.
Rhode Island: Kenyon’s Grist Mill
Type: Grain mill
Kenyon’s still uses its 1880s-era stone grinder to turn grain berries and corn kernels into flour and meal. It prides its operation on single-pass grinding, which means that unlike industrial mills the flours and meals created at Kenyon’s retain their nutrients.
South Carolina: Lakeside Mills
Type: Grain mill
Owned by the King family since 1929, Lakeside produces Southern-style ground corn products like meal and flour on its roller and stone mills. The company’s lineup includes cornmeal, flour, stone-ground grits, hushpuppy and biscuit mixes, and breading for seafood, chicken and other fried foods.
South Dakota: Norberg Paints
Location: Sioux Falls
Type: Paint store
Norberg Paints almost never happened. The story goes that painter brothers S. Albert and Peter Norberg were heading out of town one winter to relocate in milder California when a contractor offered them a job that would last through the cold months. It was such a large job that it eventually allowed them to buy out the contractor and start their own paint business.
Tennessee: Austin and Bell Funeral Home
Type: Funeral home
This funeral home was originally started by Marion Henry, a cabinet maker who also knew how to build coffins. At the business’s location in Springfield, the lights in the entrance way are the carriage lights that were used on Henry’s original horse-drawn hearse.
Texas: Imperial Sugar
Location: Sugar Land
Type: Sugar producer
What was once a small sugar producer grew into a major national manufacturer before downsizing again in recent years. The city where the business has always been headquartered is named after the company and the city seal includes the Imperial Sugar crown from its logo.
Utah: The Deseret News
Location: Salt Lake City
This publication takes its name from the provisional state that was created by Mormons in Utah before Utah’s actual statehood, and the name “deseret” is derived from the word for “honeybee” in the Book of Mormon. The paper’s founding was a direct order from the Church of Latter-day Saints’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the future Salt Lake City, and it’s still owned by the church.
Vermont: Fort Ticonderoga Ferry
Type: Ferry boat
Residents and visitors to Lake Champlain have been taking a scenic seven-minute daytime ferry ride from Shoreham, Vermont across the water to Ticonderoga, New York for 220 years. It’s the oldest ferry operation in the U.S.
Virginia: Shirley Plantation
Location: Charles City
Virginia’s oldest business is also the oldest in the U.S. It has been operated by the Hill family since 1638. It remains a working plantation to this day, as well as being a museum, private residence and National Historic Landmark.
Washington: Laird Norton Co.
Type: Wealth management
This investment firm has been a family business for seven generations and first started as a Pacific Northwest logging operation.
Washington, D.C.: Old Ebbitt Grill
This 567-seat, Victorian-inspired eatery accommodates more than 1 million visitors a year. It’s known for its oysters and a popular annual festival celebrating this delicacy. Old Ebbitt has occupied many different locations over the years and is currently in the downtown area, close to the White House.
West Virginia: The Greenbrier
Location: Allegheny Mountains
Billed as America’s Resort, this luxury property was built atop a natural mineral spring and has welcomed 27 of the nation’s 45 presidents over its more than 240-year life. The 11,000-acre property features 710 guest rooms, 20 restaurants and lounges, and 36 retail shops.
Wisconsin: Minhas Craft Brewery
Type: Alcohol maker
The fourth-largest brewery in the U.S. might be most recognizable as the producer of Trader Joe’s budget brands Simpler Times and Boatswain, and Costco’s own beer label. It also makes other beer, wine, liquor and alcopops. Minhas’ museum also claims to house the largest collection of beer memorabilia in the country.
Wyoming: Miners and Stockmen’s
Steak is the name of the game at this historic restaurant in a former mining boomtown that is now home to only 60 or so residents. It also offers a long list of wines and whiskies. The building is purported to be haunted by a piano-playing ghost.