A Historical Stroll Down Talleyrand Avenue

May 29, 2012 5 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

While Downtown Jacksonville's wharfs boomed a century ago, this heavy maritime related industrial district also came to life during the same period of time. While our wharfs are long gone, this district remains an urban Jacksonville economic powerhouse: Talleyrand

The Jessie Street strip between Talleyrand Avenue and East Jacksonville was the original site of Jacksonville's fairgrounds.  The area became the location of Florida's first state fair in 1876.  The fairgrounds also hosted the only world's championship prize fight ever held in Jacksonville when James Corbett knocked out Charles Mitchell in 1894.

During the 1950s, it was transformed into an industrial park with every structure abutting a Atlantic Coast Line railroad siding.  Businesses operating in these structures today include Second Harvest and Laney & Duke.  The mission of Second Harvest North Florida is to distribute food and grocery products to hungry people and to educate the public about the causes and possible solutions to problems of domestic hunger.

The Lutheran Social Services food program began in 1979 as the Nourishment Network, but became the food bank in 1981 as its services expanded. In 1984, the food bank became a certified member of the national organization, America’s Second Harvest, which changed its name to Feeding America in 2008. The mission of Second Harvest North Florida is to feed hungry people by soliciting and judiciously distributing food and grocery products and to educate the public about the nature of and solutions to the problems of hunger.

There are two basic components: rescuing surplus food and redistributing it to local nonprofit organizations serving the hungry and providing nutritious meals and healthy snacks to children from low-income families through community-based Kids Cafe sites.

Second Harvest is the link between surplus food and agencies serving children, families, individuals and senior citizens in need. The majority of surplus food would be thrown away without this link. Financial contributions from individuals, businesses, and special events such as the Empty Bowls Luncheon enable Second Harvest to rescue and store donated food for pick up more than 450 nonprofit organizations in 17 counties.

For 80 years Laney & Duke has been fulfilling the warehousing, distribution, order fulfillment and transportation needs of some the world’s most successful companies. Laney & Duke owns and operates over 1,000,000 square feet of warehouse space in Jacksonville, including 319,000 square feet of space at 1560 Jessie Street.

Owens Corning's Talleyrand Avenue plant manufactures asphalt roofing shingles.  Built in 1952, the plant was originally owned by the Llyod A Fry Roofing Company.  Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning Fiberglass Corporation acquired the company on April 1, 1977.  In the late 1970s, there were 175 employees on its payroll.  As technology has improved the manufacturing of its product, by the 1990s, it employed 60.

Crowley Maritime Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Florida, and founded in 1892, is primarily a family and employee-owned company that provides transportation and logistics services in U.S. and international markets by means of six operating lines of business: Puerto Rico/Caribbean Liner Services, Latin America Liner Services, Logistics Services, Petroleum and Chemical Transportation, Petroleum Distribution and Contract Services and Technical Services. Offered within these operating lines of business are the following services: liner container shipping, logistics, contract towing and transportation; ship assist and escort; energy support; salvage and emergency response; vessel management; vessel construction and naval architecture; government services, and petroleum and chemical transportation, distribution and sales.

Today, the company brings in an annual revenue of more than $1.5 billion and employs approximately 5,000 people worldwide providing its services using a fleet of more than 300 vessels, consisting of RO-RO vessels, LO-LO vessels, tankers, Articulated Tug-Barges (ATBs), tugs and barges.  Crowley's 67-acre Talleyrand terminal is located on the site of the former Atlantic Coast Line Railroad's Exporting Terminals, just north of the Owens Corning plant.

This century old industrial district is home to several contaminated sites.  The most well known along Talleyrand may be the location of the former Kerr McGee Chemical Company.  Kerr McGee was located on 31 acres bordering the St. Johns Rever and Deer Creek at 1611 Talleyrand Avenue.

The site operated as a fertilizer formulating, packagine, and distributing facility from at least 1893 to 1978. Pesticide formulation operations were added in the 1950s. Previous owners of the site include Wilson and Toomer Company (1893 to 1950s), Plymouth Cordage (1950s-1965), Emhart Corporation (1965-1970) and Kerr McGee Chemical Company, now Tronox LLC (1970 to present).  

Kerr McGee Chemical Company operated two plants at the site that formulated, blended, and packaged pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers until the site was closed in 1978.  Kerr McGee also produced sulfuric acid in an on-site plant for use in the fertilizer manufacturing process and for a time operated a steel drum reconditioning facility near the pesticide storage warehouse.  Sulfuric acid production was discontinued in 1972, superphosphate fertilizer production was discontinued in 1976, and fertilizer-blending operations ceased in 1978.  The site's buildings were demolished in 1989, with the exception of three raised foundations.  The site is currently vacant and undeveloped.

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