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.


American Bakeries (Merita Bread) in 1933. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

American Bakeries was formed in 1910 with the merging of the Highland Baking Company, Martin Cracker and Candy Company, and the Huston Biscuit Company.  In 192-, American Bakeries constructed a Merita Bread bakery at the intersection of 11th and Market Streets.

William Fisch and Herman Malchow, who for three years had been operating a lunchroom in Birmingham, Alabama, established the Highland Bakery, which began producing breads in 1901. Starting with a single horse-and-wagon route and one retail bakeshop, the business grew and flourished. Legend has it that in the company’s early years, an award known as the MERIT-A award, signifying highest merit, was conferred on some bakery products. This company consistently won the award and displayed the symbol “MERIT-A” on the packages. By mistake, a printer left out the hyphen and thus the name MERITA was born.

In 1988, American Bakeries Company was acquired by IBC Holdings, which changed its name to Interstate Bakeries in 1991. Interstate Bakeries constructed a state-of-the-art bakery at Imeson Park in North Jacksonville to replace the Springfield plant in 1994.  That automated plant produces 168 loaves of bread per minute and is said to be the best-equipped bakery within a 500-mile radius.  Most of the historic Springfield Warehouse District bakery was demolished in 1999 and the site was transitioned into a Fleet Maintenance Department for Hostess. Interstate was renamed Hostess Brands, Inc. in 2009.  In 2012, Hostess was shut down and liquidated. In January 2013, it was announced Flowers Foods offered to buy some of the bread brands. The deal as initially structured for $360 million and would involve 20 bakeries and 38 depots, including the North Jacksonville plant that replaced the Springfield Warehouse District factory. The deal has not been finalized as the bid is a stalking horse offer, meaning other companies could still bid for the brands.


The Dorsey Company Bakery was one of several bakeries that operated plants in the Springfield Warehouse District. One could easily argue that the instead of a warehouse district, Springfield had a baking district complete with its own baker's union headquarters.  In addition to Dorsey, other bakeries in the area included the Ward Baking Company, American Bakeries Company, and the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company.

The Dorsey-O'Neil Bakery constructed the original structure in 1914 at Main and Warren Streets.  Major expansions, including the transformation of the building into a Mediterranean Revival style structure, occurred in 1922 and 1925.  In 1926, covering a full city block, it was the largest and most modern bakery in the South, producing 100,000 loaves of bread and cakes a day.

By the end of the Great Depression, the plant was owned and operated by the O.A. Seybold Baking Company. By the 1970s, the bakery had closed and the building was being used by the Duval County school system as a book depository.  During the mid-1990s, the historic bakery building was incorporated into the campus of adjacent Kirby Smith Middle School.

The former bakery's fermentation room along North Main Street.

The bakery's ovens were behind this wall along North Hubbard Street.


For many decades, the Springfield Warehouse District employed thousands of workers in the bakery and tobacco industries in companies such as Dorsey Company Bakery, Ward Baking Company, American Bakeries Company and Swisher.  With such a high concentration of manufacturing jobs within walking distance, it was only natural for a labor organization to establish a presence nearby.

To fulfill this need, the Bakery Confectionary Tobacco Workers International Union Afl - CIO was located across the street from American Bakeries Company at 2078 North Liberty Street.

H.O.M.S. Brotherhood Hall - 2078 North Liberty Street

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