Walkable Districts: Edison Avenue

November 16, 2012 25 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

While much of the focus in our city is on downtown revitalization, Jacksonville's urban core and inner-ring suburbs are home to a number of long-overlooked, historic, walkable commercial districts. In our effort to promote better use of existing assets in our communities - which will facilitate sustainable growth and subsequently increase the city's tax base - Metro Jacksonville highlight's North Riverside's Edison Avenue.

Edison Avenue Today

Over the last sixty years, more people have moved away (6,740) from North Riverside, than the population that remains today (3,795).  As a result, Edison Avenue is a corridor that has seen its greatest days gone by.  However, there are still several structures standing that were apart of an era when Jacksonville had 60 miles of streetcar lines connecting walkable districts like this with downtown.  However, blessed with an interesting historical development pattern, a central location, a preserved building stock, and a national trend of people flocking back to cities, North Riverside and Edison Avenue remain bright.

The Our Lady of the Angels Parish was established in 1917 to serve Jacksonville's growing Catholic population. The sanctuary was built in 1915 and dedicated by Bishop Michael J. Curley in 1917.  Described at the time as, "one of the prettiest small church buildings in the state", the sanctuary reflects a variation of the Late Gothic Revival Style.  Bishop Curley assigned Father William Barry as its first pastor.  Membership at this location declined as the community around it became more economically distressed in the later half of the 20th century.  Because of declining membership, the church was eventually closed around a decade ago.

Still operating as a neighborhood market, this building was Joe's Grocery in 1960.  It was constructed in 1930

Founded by William W. "Bill" Gay in 1962, W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractor provides a wide variety of commercial, industrial and engineering contracting services within the public, private and military sectors.

Now a part of the Gay complex, in 1960, this 1931-era storefront was occupied by the Lackawanna Furniture Company.

Completed in 1934, the former Boree Service Station is now a part of the Gay complex.

These two buildings (above and below) along Osceola Street were once a part of the Mason Lumber Company complex. For the first half of the 20th century, the block between Stockton and Osceola Streets, was the location of the Dekle and Mason Lumber Companies.  Sraddling what is now the CSX "A" Line, the Dekle Lumber Company operated a planing mill that was eventually taken over by William Marcy Mason.

Mason's son, Raymond Knight Mason, founded the Charter Company in Jacksonville in 1949. Charter grew to become conglomerate with more than 180 subsidiaries that was in the Fortune 500 for a decade before falling into bankruptcy protection in 1984 and spiraled.  Mason's other son, William Marcy Mason, Jr. was the president of the Jacksonville Federal Savings Bank.

The Mason Lumber Company's operations remained at this location into the 1960s. In 1968, the majority of the lumberyard complex was replaced by a Holiday Inn motel.  Today, Gateway Community Services occupies the former motel.

A 1960s rendering of the Stockton Street Holiday Inn (now Gateway Community Services, Inc.).

Sanborn Map illustrating the Dekle Lumber Company.

This site at Woodlawn and Edison was a wholesale lumberyard in 1960.  In 1976, the Bert Morsch Lumber Company began manufacturing pressure treated lumber, timber, marine pilings, and wood fencing, leading to the contaimination of the property.  Excavation of onsite contaiminated soils is anticipated to begin in late 2012.

The Wrightsville A.M.E. Church (True Church of the Risen Christ) at 2297 Edison Avenue constructed in 1922.

In the early 20th century, Consumers Ice Company operated an ice plant adjacent to the Wrightsville A.M.E. Church at 2293 Edison Avenue. The company closed in 1954. In later years, the Gillespie Bonded Warehouse Company operated out of the site.  The old ice house was demolished during the late 1990s.  The Consumers Ice Company's former South Jacksonville ice plant will soon be occupied by the Aardwolf Brewing Company.

For many years, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, operated at store at 2293 Edison Avenue.  When this store was in operation, A&P was the world's largest retailer, reaching $1 billion in sales with 16,000 stores in 1936.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) - District 2's Urban Office is located at 2198 Edison Avenue.

Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Inc. operates out of a building that was constructed in 1924 to serve as a bottling factory for the Orange Crush Bottling Company. Orange Crush was founded in 1911 by Clayton J. Howell, who partnered with Neil C. Ward. Ward perfected the process of blending ingredients to create the exclusive formula that yielded the zesty, all-natural orange flavor of Orange Crush. Originally, Orange Crush included orange pulp in the bottles, giving it a "fresh squeezed" illusion even though the pulp was added rather than remaining from squeezed oranges. In 1942, the Edison Avenue facility was rebranded as the Seven-Up Bottling Company/Duval Bottling Company.  Seven Up operated out of this Edison Avenue building until 1969. Seven Up eventually merged with Dr. Pepper in 1988.

Edison Avenue is located on Jacksonville's Westside just north of Interstate 10 between McDuff Avenue and Brooklyn.

Article by Ennis Davis

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