Made in Jacksonville: Eco Relics

June 9, 2014 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

They say the greenest building is an existing one. However, Eco Relic's reuse of Baker & Homles' former Stockton Street warehouse may be one of the most sustainable concepts in Jacksonville.

In 1896, when two Jaxsons in their early 20s, John D. Baker and John Dobbin Holmes, incorporated the Baker & Holmes Company, Jacksonville was a city on the verge of great things. In 1927, Baker & Holmes expanded their operations into a 49,481 square foot building served by the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (now CSX) at 106 Stockton Street on Jacksonville's Westside. By this time, the company specialized in wholesale grain, hay, flour, grits, meal, fertilizers, cottonseed meal, and building material. They were also known for manufacturing a specialty of brick, lime, and cement. Their facilities for handling these goods were considered superior, enabling them to undersell competitors, and yet supply the very best quality of goods.

The Baker & Holmes Company during the early 1920s. Image courtesy of the Spottswood collection at the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

As the decades passed, what was considered modern in the early 20th century had become obsolete and forgotten by the beginning of the 21st century, due to changes in technology. For many years, the old Stockton Street warehouse sat empty like many similar aged industrial buildings in the Dennis Street District and in Jacksonville's urban core.  However, unlike many, the place that Baker and Homles built did not fall victim to the wrecking ball. Not only does it survive, it's once again being utilized as a center housing building material.

The vacant Baker & Holmes Company building in 2010.

During the Fall of 2013, husband and wife team Michael and Ann Murphy opened Eco Relics. Their new business in Jacksonville's urban core is the largest architectural salvage company within a five-state area. Unlike other big box home improvement stores, Eco Relics reuses, recycles, and repurposes building supplies, construction tools, and architectural salvage inventory. They then sell these materials at discount prices to contractors, interior decorators and the general public as opposed to them being sent to landfills across the country. According to the Murphys, an estimated 25 to 40 percent of materials at landfills are the type of building demolition, renovation, and construction debris they reclaim.

Judging from the amount of Jaxsons exploring their showroom, Eco Relics appears to be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. A walk through the historic warehouse is a pretty interesting one with the shelves containing everything from nuts and bolts to reclaimed fireplaces, elevators, spiral staircases, and elegant glass chandeliers.

Eco Relics in May 2014.

Their reuse of the old Baker & Holmes warehouse is a testament to their commitment for a sustainable future. As a part of its renovations, wherever possible, energy efficient and salvaged material options were used to the update the structure. Two features that really stand out are their energy efficient lighting and eco-friendly 16 feet HVLS fans. Landscaping using rescued palms, trees and shrubs was also incorporated into the adaptive reuse project. Employing as many as 20 people, Eco Relics is located at 106 Stockton Street and is open seven days a week.

Next Page: A Look Inside Eco Relics

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