Neighborhoods: Springfield Warehouse District

February 13, 2013 19 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Telfair Stockton & Company developed a significant chunk of Jacksonville's urban core that we know and love today. While Springfield, Avondale, and San Marco stand out to most, Stockton also was heavily involved in Jacksonville's growth as an industrial center. Here is a before and after look at the remains of Stockton's largest manufacturing center in Jacksonville's urban core: The Springfield Warehouse District.


Established in Jacksonville in 1924, Swisher produces produces premium and mass market cigars, little cigars, and various smokeless tobacco products under numerous brand names, including the company's two most famous brand names, King Edward and Swisher Sweets.

In 1924, after an exhaustive search, Carl Swisher selected the Springfield Warehouse District as the new site of the Newark, OH company headquarters. Shortly after, the country's first "fresh work" rolling machines turn on at the Jacksonville plant, mass-producing cigars that are superior in uniformity, appearance, and quality.  Swisher then became the first to wrap individual cigars in cellophane, and first to come up with a simple device for removing the cellophane by pulling the cigar band.

In 1939, the company opened King Edward Nursery, the nation's first industrial children's nursery, on the top floor of the Springfield Warehouse District plant earning nationwide acclaim.

Today, Swisher International's cigar factory is the largest in the world, in terms of size and production, covering nearly 700,000 square feet, employing 1,100 and producing as many as 8.5 million cigars a day.  To expand to this amount of square footage, the cigar factory has consumed adjacent warehouse district properties once occupied by the Peninsular Boxboard Products, Inc., Ward Baking Company, and the Jacksonville Ginter Box Company.  Jacksonville Ginter Box manufactured cigar boxes. While the other company's facilities have been demolished, a portion of Jacksonville Ginter Box's structure continues to be used by Swisher today.

Left to right: David Swisher, inside Jacksonville plant in 1924 and John H. Swisher

Interior view showing employees working inside the King Edward Cigars factory in 1946. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

The King Edwards Nursery in 1948.

The Swisher plant in 1946. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

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Setzer's general office and distribution center on North Liberty Street in Springfield in 1943. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

Benjamin Setzer's grocery empire originated a few blocks south in Springfield in 1910.  Setzer's Supermarkets eventually grew into a 40 unit chain, with stores across North and Central Florida by the time it was sold to Food Fair Stores in 1958.  2323 Liberty Street was built by the Setzer to serve as a distribution center for his supermarkets.

After the sale of Setzer's Supermarkets, Benjamin Setzer utilized this 200,000 Square foot Springfield Warehouse District facility as the general offices and distribution center for his next chain, Pic N' Save.  At its height, Pic N' Save employed over 3,000 in 40 stores throughout Florida and Georgia.  Competition from category killers like Walmart, a reluctance to invest in new technology and family disputes led to the company's downfall in 1996.  

Setzer's/Pic N' Save's former corporate headquarters and distribution center in Springfield's Warehouse District today.

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