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Abandoned Jacksonville: Florida Machine & Foundry

A look inside the remains of a downtown Jacksonville steel foundry that dates back to 1924: The Florida Machine & Foundry

Published February 21, 2012 in History      15 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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A Brief History of Florida Machine & Foundry



While current city records indicate Florida Machine and Foundry's West Church Street facility dating back to 1953, its history actually begins in the early 20th century, paralleling the development of several major businesses in the vicinity of downtown’s railroad terminal.

The foundry was originally known as the Florida Machine Works and was established by E.C. Dearborn and R.W. Limbaugh in 1899. A short time after the Great Fire of 1901, Franklin Glazier Russell, Sr. of Howell, Maine relocated to Jacksonville and became the sole proprietor of the Florida Machine Works, which was located near the Acosta Bridge at 40 Riverside Avenue.



In 1912, Russell purchased the West Church Street site to eventually relocate his business from the downtown waterfront.  With the help of his son, Franklin Russell, Jr, the foundry opened in 1924.  For the next sixty plus years the foundry would buzz with activity employing hundreds of Jaxons, including Mitch Raikes, the founder of Larry's Giant Subs.  However, by the 1990s, the foundry was no more.  For a brief period in the late 1990's the site was occupied by National Wire Southeast.  Some of the industrial complex's oldest buildings are being demolished in preparation of converting a portion of the property into a scrap yard.


The Machine Shop

Fronting West Church Street, and completed in 1924, the machine shop was the only building constructed of brick.








Dawkins Building Supply Company Building

Now demolished, this warehouse dated back to 1924 as well.  Between 1924 and 1929, it was occupied by DeWitt C. Dawkin's Dawkins Building Supply Company.  In 1929, Dawkins relocated to the intersection of West Beaver Street and Myrtle Avenue.  Still in operation today, the company is now known as the Big D building center.












Steel Fabrication Plant

The steel fabrication plant was added during the 1950s.  It's in the process of being put into use again.


The remains of a Seaboard Air Line Railroad rail siding inside the fabrication plant.









The Foundry

The foundry was the life valve of the industrial complex.  Constructed in 1924, it is in the process of being demolished.



















Article by Ennis Davis. Photographs by Daniel Herbin







15 Comments

urbanlibertarian

February 21, 2012, 10:12:31 AM
For those who are curious like me, this is located at 1375 W Church St 32204 which is west of Myrtle Ave and south of Beaver St.

Tacachale

February 21, 2012, 02:31:39 PM
Nice article. What are the plans for this area?

Ajax

February 21, 2012, 06:28:17 PM
Great pictures and info - thanks for sharing this!

choosing2disappear

February 22, 2012, 12:52:07 AM
Hardwick & Lee (Taylor Hardwick) did the offices of Florida Machine and Foundry, twice. The first office building was done in the mid/late 50's, then around the time when the Haydon Burns was going up, they build a twin (but more modern looking) building beside it and then connected the pair together with a curiously shaped concrete entranceway.

Was quite well preserved in '08 when I was there. Instantly recognizable as a T.H. project.  I have pics, somewhere..........

thelakelander

February 22, 2012, 06:31:42 AM
Thanks.  I was wondering who did the design of the office building.  Last time I went by, it appeared that it was being renovated.

choosing2disappear

February 22, 2012, 06:37:22 PM
Sure, but Jax's primary renovation tool continues to be a wrecking ball, right?

thelakelander

February 22, 2012, 07:26:02 PM
^Of course.  The majority of the foundry has already been demolished.  However, the new owners do appear to be reusing the office, the steel fab plant, and machine shop buildings....or at least the backhoe hasn't hit their walls yet.

Rumblefish

February 23, 2012, 01:18:27 PM
Sure, but Jax's primary renovation tool continues to be a wrecking ball, right?
It should be.  I am all for rehabbing but that place is an industrial dump.

wnettles

February 27, 2012, 08:25:40 PM
Wonder just how much more of Jacksonville's history will get the wrecking ball renovation treatment?   It's a shame to see such useful structures being demolished, but, what can one do?    I restore antique tractors and have an appreciation for the technology of the age.    The simpler machines seem to be much more reliable and efficient than today's grotesquely overly complicated and cheaply made replacements. 

choosing2disappear

March 21, 2012, 11:20:44 AM
Sure, but Jax's primary renovation tool continues to be a wrecking ball, right?
It should be.  I am all for rehabbing but that place is an industrial dump.



Clueless.  Nothing changes. 100 years in the future Jville will still be the city that did the least, with the most.  See ya.

Kaiser Soze

March 21, 2012, 01:53:04 PM
Sure, but Jax's primary renovation tool continues to be a wrecking ball, right?
It should be.  I am all for rehabbing but that place is an industrial dump.



Clueless.  Nothing changes. 100 years in the future Jville will still be the city that did the least, with the most.  See ya.
In 100 years, my grandchildren will be terribly upset when that industrial dumpsite is on EPA's national priorities list.

choosing2disappear

March 21, 2012, 02:51:02 PM
perhaps.

thelakelander

May 11, 2012, 07:34:06 PM
A new life for the remaining foundry buildings (1924 brick machine shop, offices, and steel fabrication plant).  The property is serving as a steel recycling yard for Main Metal Recycling.





thelakelander

May 19, 2012, 10:04:10 AM
Came across this while looking for another site in the Florida State Archives collection.



Quote
African American men at the Florida Landclearing plant holding sign for Dakar Africa in 1949.

Overstreet

July 24, 2012, 08:16:55 AM
Wrecking ball.???   Not the wrecking ball.   They appear to be track hoe mounted metal shear and trackhoe bucket with thumb.
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