Taylor Hardwick's Iconic Skinner Stores

September 21, 2009 33 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Created by the architectural firm of Hardwick & Lee, the Skinner's Milk Houses were thoughtfully designed and visually interesting structures that would eventually become an iconic presence throughout the greater Jacksonville area. Jonathan Lux explores The Skinner's Milk Houses for Metro Jacksonville complete with a list of locations where these iconic and historic Jacksonville landmarks can still be found.

Vintage advertisement. 1958


The Skinner family operated a dairy farm on a portion of their vast land holdings in northeast Florida beginning in the early 1950s. During the late 50s the growing influence of grocery stores made it more difficult for small, independent dairies to remain financially solvent. Therefore the decision was made to adapt the business by building small freestanding "milk houses" in residential neighborhoods. These stores offered milk and other dairy products and were ideally suited to replace the declining service of milk home delivery. The first store was built in 1958 and the chain eventually peaked in 1985 with a total of 21 stores spread out throughout north Florida (19 in Jacksonville and 2 in St. Augustine 40 miles to the south).

Casset Ave. store, c. 1958


Created by the architectural firm of Hardwick & Lee, the Skinner's Milk Houses were thoughtfully designed and visually interesting structures that would eventually become an iconic presence throughout the greater Jacksonville area. Under their pitched "butterfly" roofs each identical store was painted orange and white, incorporated a drive-through feature that could be approached from 2 sides, and made use of aluminum sliding glass doors which were cutting edge and only recently made available commercially.

Final years

The Skinner Dairy management transitioned to a new generation in the mid 1980's. Under that new management a second wave of Milk House construction began in 1986. However for unknown reasons the modernist Hardwick & Lee design was jettisoned for a new design (architect unknown) which could best be described as pedestrian and forgettable. The location and quantities of the second series is not known with any certainty, but it is estimated that somewhere between one and two dozen were built from 1986-95.

The relatively short lifespan of the second series combined with their bland appearance occasionally leads to locals misremembering these stores as having been built in the manner of the earlier Hardwick & Lee design.

The dairy was sold to the Suzia Foods Corporation in January 1996. The land that constituted the dairy headquarters and farm was a sizable piece of property located off of Bowden Rd. on the city's south side. No evidence of the Dairy farm has survived to the present day as the land was redeveloped in 2000 as an office park known as "The Silos", a reference to the land's previous appearance and function. Yet what has endured the rapid population growth and environmental changes of the last 20 years are the iconic Skinner Dairy "Milk Houses".


Today the Skinner Dairy stores exist in northeast Florida as a curious and visually delightful link to the economic and social history of the region. As of December 2007, 16 of the original 21 stores still exist in one form or another, most with their distinctive roofs intact. As a testament to the enduring appeal of the structures and their form, the remaining Skinner Dairy stores have proven adaptable for a variety of independent businesses. A survey of current tenants include several drive-thru restaurants and sandwich shops, car wash and detailing services, check cashing, a florist, a dry-cleaner, a coffee shop, golf instruction, and pickup-truck bed-liners. Some successful adaptations require building additions which only on rare occasions are the structures aesthetics thoughtfully considered. 5 are presently in such a state that could be described as (or close to) original:

Store #16 in 2007
 Store #3 in 2007
Store #6 in 2007

Store locations and present condition

All locations are in Jacksonville, FL, except for #8, #17, and #18.

  1. 1958 Edgewood Ave. (occupied by Jerome Brown BBQ)
  2. 1958 Casset Ave.
  3. 1958 Arlington Blvd.
  4. 1958 Springpark Rd.
  5. 1959 Ortega Blvd. (moved in 1980) (Torn down c. 1992. Presently used for car wash parking lot)
  6. 1959 St. Johns Ave.
  7. 1960 Pearl St.
  8. 1962 Jacksonville Beach
  9. 1962 McDuff Ave. (Torn down c. 1990. Bought by high school for parking lot.)
  10. 1962 Dunn Ave.
  11. 1963 Shirly Ave.
  12. 1963 Bowden Rd. (occupied by a drive thru coffee shop)
  13. 1965 San Juan Ave.
  14. 1965 Pearl St. (moved in 1983 to Old St. Augustine Rd.) (Gutted and rebuilt c. 2000. While some elements remain deep within the interior, exterior is completely unrecognizable.)
  15. 1968 Melson Ave.
  16. 1968 Arlington Ave. (Torn down July 2007. Presently used for parking Yachts and a mobile billboard.)
  17. 1970 St. Augustine
  18. 1970 St. Augustine (Anastasia Island)
  19. 1972 Merrill Rd.
  20. 1972 Ricker Rd. (Abandoned. Roof missing.)
  21. 1984 Pall Mall Dr. (Torn down c. 1992. Presently a parking lot behind a restaurant.)


  1. ^ Patton, Charlie (2000-11-23). Piney woods miracle. The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  2. ^ Significant Work. TaylorHardwick.com. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  3. ^ Suiza Foods Corporation. Answers.com. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  4. ^ Barton, Susanna (2000-11-17). Got Land?. Jacksonville Business Journal. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  5. ^ Calnan, Christopher (2002-11-25). All fired up. The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  6. ^ {{cite web | url = http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1297325664