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The American Motors Export Company

If not for the untimely death of Henry Innes, Jacksonville could have blossomed as a major southern automobile manufacturing center. Ninety years later, Metro Jacksonville takes a look at the story of the American Motors Export Company and history of the assembly plant still remaining in Jacksonville's Northside.

Published September 6, 2011 in History      8 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


American Motors Export Company

The American Motors Export Company was a short lived automobile assembly plant in Durkeeville.  The assembly plant was three blocks west of the old Jacksonville Brewing Company, makers of the famed Jax Beer.

American Motors opened at 801 West 15th Street in 1921 to manufacture the Innes Automobile.  The Innes was an American Automobile built in 1921 by Henry L. Innes in Jacksonville, Florida. It was an attempted revival of the Simms automobile made in Atlanta, GA only in 1920. Henry L. Innes was production manager for The Simms Motor Car Co.  As the company name implied, the Innes was intended mainly for export.  The Innes was an assembled car meaning all parts were purchased elsewhere and assembled in Jacksonville.  Unfortunately, no more than 6 automobiles were built when Henry L. Innes died suddenly at the age of 46.

Two passenger roadsters and five passenger Touring Cars were made along with a small truck. The Innes Touring Car and Roadster featured a "California Top" but advertising claims it to be "Permanent Top". Both automobiles were to be equipped with a four cylinder 18.2 horsepower Supreme engines, Grant-Lees transmission and Columbia axles.

Ulysses A. Lightsey (left) was a director of the American Motors Export Company in 1922.  Image courtesy of

From The Iron Age, August 9, 1920

The Wharton Motors Co., 914 Main Street, Dallas, Tex., has preliminary plans underway for the erection of a new plant in the vicinity of Jacksonville, Fla., for the manufacture of motor trucks.  Bids for construction will be called early in the coming year and the initial works will cost about $650,000.  The company will also build a plant at Dallas, to cost about $400,000.  As expansion is required the plant will be extended until the investment aggregates about $2,000,000.  The company has arranged with the American Motors Export Co., Jacksonville, recently incorporated with a capital of $5,000,000, to handle the marketing of the production.  J.R. Pratt is president of this latter organization: Thomas P. Wharton is head of the Wharton Motor Company. motors export company jacksonville&f=false

Continental Can Company

With the death of its president, Henry Innes, American Motors Export Company would fade out of existence and the assembly plant would be purchased by the Continental Can Company in 1930 for $100,000.  The Continental Can Company was a metal container and packaging manufacturer that was founded in 1904 by Edwin Norton and T.G. Cranwell.  By the mid-1930s, Continental Can had 38 plants in the United States and Cuba.  This Jacksonville operation supplied the nearby Jacksonville Brewing Company with aluminum cans for Jax Beer products.

Howard Feed Mills

Howard Feed Mills employees in 1948.

Howard Feed Mills was founded by Laurence Webb Howard Sr., in 1918.  Mr. Howard was also the developer of the Granada area just south of San Marco.

Lawrence Howard's 1926 era Granada residence still stands.
Exhibiting the Spanish flair which typified Granada, this was the second home completed in the subdivision in 1926.  The multilevel tile roof is pierced by a scrolled parapet at the center of the second story, adding interest and variety to the facade.  Symmetrically arranged arches flank the porch, which is decorated with ceramic tile.  The house was constructed with an enclosed patio and pool at the rear.  It was originally occupied by Lawrence Howard, the principal developer of Granada.
Source: Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage, Page 258

Howard Feed Mills loading docks along Fairfax Street in 1947.

Howard Feed Mills in 1950.

Intersection of Fairfax and West 15th Streets in 1950.

Wood Treaters, LLC.

In 1980, the 12-acre site was taken over by Wood Treaters, LLC.  From 1980 to 2010, Wood Treaters pressure treated utility poles, pilings, heavy timber, and plywood products using the wood treating preservative chromated copper arsenate (CCA).  Wood was pressure treated with CCA and allowed to drip dry on site.  

During operation, stormwater was diverted to ditches along the northern and western property boundaries and drained to a retention pond at the northwestern corner of the property. An overflow pipe is located in the retention pond discharges into Moncrief Creek, a tributary of the Trout River. Low levels of arsenic contamination have been found in Moncrief Creek.  Wood Treaters, LLC. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009.

The former office area of the American Motors Export Company assembly plant.  Now the plant's entire interior is open floor area.

Now 90 years old, the former American Motors Export Company site has enjoyed a storied past and facilitated people and companies that have played a significant role in what Jacksonville has become today.  Now 90 years old, in poor physical condition and labled as an contaminated EPA site, this historic property faces an uncertain future.

American Motor's former rail loading dock area along Fairfax Street.

The initials "AMEC" still exist on the building's front facade, 90 years after the death of it's president, Henry Innes.

Once dominated with a 370-foot-long clerestory, all windows have been removed.

The former American Motors Export Company building is located at 2610 Fairfax Street, between MLK Parkway and West 13th Street.

Article by Ennis Davis



September 06, 2011, 06:51:19 AM
Is this company any relation to the old Hanson Motorcar Works in Atlanta?
That complex was demolished about ten years ago after a fire.
I think they retooled Fords.


September 06, 2011, 06:53:11 AM
Is there a lumber company in the building now?


September 06, 2011, 06:57:48 AM
The site appears to be vacant.  The lumber company filed for chapter 11 in 2010.  They may still own it but they definitely aren't pressure treating lumber any more.  There was some relation to Simms Motor Car Corp. of Atlanta.  Not so sure about Hanson.

The Simms Motor Car Corp.
Atlanta, GA
The Simms was an American Automobile produced by The Simms Motor Car Corporation of Atlanta, GA in 1920 and 1921. Very few were ever made and not much is known about the automobile except that it used a four cylinder engine. Only five passenger Touring Cars were produced. The Simms was succeeded by the Innes, an American Automobile built in Jacksonville, FL.


September 06, 2011, 09:37:42 AM
Very cool article Lake!


September 06, 2011, 10:31:08 AM
I guess since Wood Treaters went bankrupt there's no hope of them paying to remediate the property.  That's a bummer.  Luckily it looks like EPA is going to take care of it.  It's interesting that they were able to let lumber drip dry directly into the soil up until last year.  You would think they would have to come up with some sort of better plan than letting contaminants drip and then leach into the retention pond (and ultimately into Moncrief Creek).  But I guess somebody has to supply JEA with new utility poles to install.


September 06, 2011, 02:28:52 PM
Great post, as always, Ennis. I've put it up on the Jacksonville Historical Society's Facebook page . . . hope everyone will "friend" the Historical Society as it works to become a more active Internet voice for our city's history.


September 06, 2011, 10:20:55 PM
cline, the EPA is in the process of cleaning the site now.  This was emailed to me today from an EPA representative:

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 4
Fairfax St. Wood Treaters Site
Update Fact Sheet

Emergency Response/Removal Activities

In July 2010, Wood Treaters LLC filed for bankruptcy. The property was left unattended, and normal maintenance of the stormwater runoff system ceased. Wood treating chemicals were abandoned in 7 above ground storage tanks. The tanks contained high levels of arsenic, chromium and copper in sludge and liquid form. Stormwater eventually overflowed the sump and secondary containment area surrounding the tank, flowed onto the parking lot, and into the retention pond. The pond discharged to Moncrief Creek. Further, the tanks and secondary containment structures were in poor condition. In August 2010, the State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) contacted the National Response Center and EPA for assistance with managing the overflow and reducing impact to nearby residences and the environment.

On August 11, 2010, EPA initiated an Emergency Response action to secure the site, prevent waste from draining to Moncrief Creek, and prevent the tanks and secondary containment structure from overflowing. On February 15, 2011, EPA transitioned the site from an Emergency Response action to a Removal Action. EPA has completed the following activities:

Emergency Response and Removal Actions On-Site

 Prevented contaminated run-off water from discharging off site
 Removed water and sediment from retention pond
 Built a waste water treatment system utilizing titanium oxide microcrystals adsorption
 Treated and disposed 78,000+ gallons of contaminated water
 40,000 gallons of CCA contaminated water were shipped off site for recycling
 Excavated and removed CCA sludge within the sump, storage tanks and piping
 Excavated top 6 inches of soil across the site
 Decontaminated drip pad and containment area
 Storm water flow through the tank farm and secondary containment area was minimized
 Tanks and piping cleaned and removed
 Provided security

Removal Actions Off-Site

 School playground: contaminated soil near the fence line with Wood Treaters was excavated. The area was filled with clean soil and re-seeded
 School property: contaminated water and sediments in the retention pond were removed
Approximately 3,200 yards of CCA contaminated soil and sediment are stockpiled on site and will be properly disposed. Contaminated water has been processed through the on-site treatment system and discharged to the sewer system, in consultation to with the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA). Contaminated soil and sediments at the Susie Tolbert Elementary School has been removed.

Future Activities

EPA’s Removal Action is expected to be complete in the Fall of 2011. EPA has collected soil samples from 35 residential properties immediately surrounding the site. Results are being compared to EPA’s “Removal Action Levels” to determine if an immediate response, such as soil excavation, is needed. As of August 12, 2011, no residential yards exceed the EPA Removal Action Levels. However, EPA is still waiting for laboratory results for 11 properties sampled during the week of July 25, 2011. At the time this fact sheet was printed, EPA does not know if any of those 11 properties will require clean up. EPA will contact residents individually when the sampling results are available.

EPA has collected soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater samples from the Fairfax St. Wood Treaters site and the surrounding area. The sampling results are being used to identify the extent of CCA contamination and to determine if additional clean up actions are necessary.

EPA’s Removal Action is design to address urgent and immediate risks to human health and the environment. Once the EPA Removal Action is complete, EPA will determine if the site qualifies for the next step in the Superfund clean up program: inclusion on EPA’s National Priorities List. If the site does not qualify for EPA’s National Priorities List, then it will be referred to FDEP for follow up. If the site qualifies for the National Priorities List, then EPA will conduct more extensive investigations, risk assessments and clean up to address long term risks. This is called the “Remedial Process.” EPA has not made a final decision about whether Fairfax St. Wood Treaters site qualifies for the National Priorities List and the Remedial Process.

Community Participation

Community input is needed to understand community concerns about the site and to begin planning for the eventual re-use of the site.


September 06, 2011, 10:39:33 PM
At the beginning of the article, photos of the cars they produced are featured. What a stylish car. WOW!

Any strange circumstances surrounding his sudden death?
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