Neighborhoods: Springfield Warehouse District


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.

Published February 13, 2013 in Neighborhoods - MetroJacksonville.com




About The Springfield Warehouse District



The Telfair Stockton & Company was established in 1884.  In the early 20th century the real estate firm developed many of Jacksonville's most prestigious streetcar suburbs, including San Marco and Avondale.  The firm was also responsible for rapid development in Springfield and New Springfield after the Great Fire of 1901.  By 1909, Springfield had already exceeded a population of 8,000 (Springfield's 2010 census population was 3,726), and the Telfair Stockton & Company had moved on to developing New Springfield, north of the railroad.

While the company was involved in the creation of Avondale and San Marco, it also was positioned to take advantage of Jacksonville's location and rail lines to create some of the city's first streetcar suburb industrial districts.  During the 1920s, the company rapidly developed what is now known as the Springfield Warehouse District along the junction of the Seaboard Air Line (SAL) and St. Johns River Terminal Company (SJRT) railroads.  Built during an era where development was human scaled, the district's structures and their architectural details were fairly elaborate for warehouse space.  In addition, the streets were lined with sidewalks and native trees, providing shade for the pedestrian.  Developed well before President Eisenhower's Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, most of these industrial spaces were directly served by the railroads through a network of sidings paralleling 14th Street.


Looking towards 14th and Main in 1944.  Swidal-Powell (left) and Kelly (right) wholesale furniture warehouses straddle Main Street behind tree shaded sidewalks.

Like many of the early 20th century warehouse districts across the country, the Springfield Warehouse District became a center of obsolescence in the late 20th century as the city spread outward, semi-trucks increased in popularity and technological advances resulted in massive changes in industrial design.

Surprisingly, in a city that has not historical favored preservation, most of this industrial district remains intact. Telfair Stockton's Avondale and San Marco are two of the city's most desirable communities.  On the other hand, the Springfield Warehouse District remains quiet waiting for a rebirth that hasn't been decided.

Given what remains, adaptive reuse could create an atmosphere similar to popular revitalized warehouse districts across the country.  On the other hand, in a city that doesn't value preservation, like the downtown Northbank, it could disappear over time through piecemeal demolition. Here is a look into the history of this district and the companies that left their architectural mark on Jacksonville's urban core.


TABLE OF CONTENTS




PAGE 2

Swisher International

National Merchandise Company (Pic N' Save)


PAGE 3

Wright Hotel Equipment Company

Sherwin-Williams Company

Southern Hardware & Bicycle Company

Fisk Tire Company, Inc.


PAGE 4

Studebaker Corporation

Old Chevrolet Motor Company

Chevrolet Motor Company


PAGE 5

Hutting Sash & Door Company

Aetna Iron & Steel Company

Kelly Wholesale Furniture Company

Graybar Electric Company


PAGE 6

American Bakeries Corporation

Dorsey Company Bakery

Baker's Union


PAGE 7

Coca-Cola Bottling Company

Mehlas Warehouses

Mavis Bottling Company

Duval Spirits, Inc.


SWISHER INTERNATIONAL



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, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167727


The King Edwards Nursery in 1948.


The Swisher plant in 1946. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167726

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NATIONAL MERCHANDISE COMPANY (PIC N' SAVE DISTRIBUTION CENTER)


Setzer's general office and distribution center on North Liberty Street in Springfield in 1943. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/52954

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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WRIGHT HOTEL EQUIPMENT COMPANY



The Art Deco styled building at 2137 North Liberty Street was constructed for the Wright Hotel Equipment Company in 1946. During the 1960s, the headquarters of the USA Florida Sector Command occupied the building. Today, it is the location of the Hope Outreach Ministry.




SHERWIN-WILLIAMS COMPANY


The Sherwin-Williams warehouse can be seen across the street from Setzer's in this 1943 image. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/52954

2320 North Liberty Street was built for the Sherwin-Williams Company in 1930.  Sherwin-Williams was founded by Henry Sherwin and Edward Willians in Cleveland, OH in 1866. Today, the Sherwin-Williams Company is a Fortune 500 company primarily engaged in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of paints, coatings and related products.  During the 1960s, an appliance company known as Flarapco, Inc. operated out of the space.






SOUTHERN HARDWARE & BICYCLE COMPANY



The Southern Hardware & Bicycle Company operated out of this 18,000 square foot warehouse at 2336 North Liberty Street, which was built in 1926.  The company was based out of North Haven, CT.












FISK TIRE COMPANY, INC.



2406 North Liberty Street was constructed for the Fisk Tire Company, Inc. in 1925.  It is one of two Mediterranean Revival style industrial buildings remaining in the district.  During the 1920s, this architectural style was very popular throughout Florida. Fisk was founded by Noyes W. Fisk in Springfield, MA in 1898, when he purchased a bicycle tire and rubber factory.  In 1899, he produced his first automobile tire.  By the 1920s, the Fisk Tire Company was producing and selling the most popular passenger car tire in America, which was the fabled Red Top. In 1940, Fisk was acquired by the U.S. Rubber Company, which is now known as Uniroyal, Inc.


STUDEBAKER CORPORATION


The Studebaker Corporation in 1926. Courtesy of the Telfair Stockton & Company industrial advertisement.

In 1922, the Studebaker Automobile Company opened a parts distribution warehouse at 2551 (now 2335) North Market Street.  Studebaker was founded in 1852 as a wagon manufacturer in South Bend, IN.  Studebaker entered the automotive business in 1902 and had established an enviable reputation for quality and reliability. At the time of their Springfield Warehouse District's opening, the company's assembly plants were located in South Bend, Walkerville (Canada), and Detroit.

Studebaker's time in Springfield would not last long as a result of the Great Depression and by 1932, the building was occupied by Universal Tractor & Equipment Company.  Studebaker went on to merge with Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit in 1954, leading both operations to cease in existance by 1966.

In recent years, 2335 North Market Street had been occupied by Tison-Demar Woodworks.  Recently listed for sale, it appears the building has been purchased.







OLD CHEVROLET MOTOR COMPANY BUILDING


The Chevrolet Motor Company in 1926. Courtesy of the Telfair Stockton & Company industrial advertisement.

In 1920, rapidly growing Jacksonville was noticed by Henry L. Innes, who established the American Motors Export Company auto assembly plant in Durkeeville.  Innes, who died in 1921 after producing only six vehicles had previously worked for Chevrolet's William C. Durant in Flint, MI.

Shortly, after Innes' death, several Midwestern-based automakers established major operations in Jacksonville, with the affiliation of Telfair Stockton & Company. Studebaker Corporation opened a Springfield Warehouse District warehouse in 1922 and Henry Ford purchased the former Bentley Shipyards for an assembly plant in 1923.

Soon Chevrolet was sold on investing in the Jacksonville market. In 1926, this building at 2310 North Market Street was constructed for the Detroit-based Chevrolet Motor Company. The company had been founded by Louis Chevrolet and ousted General Motors founder William C. Durant in 1911 and had grown to be a major competitor to Henry Ford's company.

Chevrolet quickly outgrew this facility and constructed a larger facility one block east in 1929. After Chevrolet relocated, this building housed several businesses, including the Carling Brewing Company durint the 1950s.  

Carling was a Canadian and United Kingdom based brewery that utilized the Springfield building for distribution.  The rights to the Carling label are now owned by Molson Coors Brewing Company. Today, the warehouse is occupied by Cotney-Rich Tires.






CHEVROLET MOTOR COMPANY





2111 N. Liberty Street was designed by noted architect Albert Khan and constructed in 1929 for the Chevrolet Motor Company.  It replaced a smaller parts warehouse, one block west, that the company quickly outgrew.  Parts were brought in via rail and shipped out by truck. Chevrolet used this structure from 1929 until 1958. Since that time, the space has been used as a printing shop, plastic recycling center, and as a speculative property investment, among other things.




In 2012, Paul Davis Restorations invested $1.6 million in restoring the 40,000 square foot warehouse for their offices, processing space, and fleet vehicles. Paul Davis Restoration employees 35 at the site today.







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HUTTING SASH AND DOOR COMPANY


Huttig Sash and Door in 1957. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167231

Huttig was founded as a sawmill and lumberyard in Muscatine, IA by brothers, Charles and William Huttig in 1866.  By the 1920s, the company had evolved into a window sash and door manufacturer.  In 1923, they expanded to Jacksonville with the construction of this manufacturing plant at 2303 North Market Street.

This building is one of a few of +90 year old buildings still standing that illustrate the evolution of industrial design since Telfair Stockton's original development of the industrial district. To accommodate the invention of the semi-truck, the northeast section of the building has been removed and converted into an area for truck trailers.

Today, the company is known as Huttig Building Products.  While they have moved on from the Springfield Warehouse District, their West Jacksonville operation is one of only four Huttig facilities in Florida.


Inside Huttig's Springfield office in 1957. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167226


Workers in the office at the Huttig Sash and Door Company factory in 1956. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167287


A Huttig truck in 1950. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/53239


A fleet of delivery trucks in the garage at the Huttig Sash and Door Company factory in 1953.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167285



Outside Huttig's modified truck loading dock in 1957. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167230







ĘTNA IRON & STEEL COMPANY


Ętna Iron & Steel Company in 1943. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51369

The Etna Iron & Steel Company (sometimes rendered as Ętna) was built at 2120 North Market Street in 19--.  The facility, which ceased operations in 1945, specialized in the cutting and fitting of iron and steel. The name "Etna" (and its alternative spellings "Aetna" and "Ętna") derives from the nymph Aetna in Greek mythology, after whom the volcano Mount Etna in modern-day Sicily is said to be named.

Since 1988, the site has been occupied by Southland Recycling & Shredding. Southland operates one of the largest paper processing plants in North Florida, processing between 2,500 and 3,000 tons of material each month.


Looking towards the Ętna Iron & Steel Company from the Liberty Street railroad crossing in 1943. Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/52953








KELLY WHOLESALE FURNITURE COMPANY


The Kelly Furniture Company in 1926. Courtesy of the Telfair Stockton & Company industrial advertisement.

2301 North Main Street was constructed in 1925 as Kelly Wholesale Furniture. Solomon's Main Street Auction House was the 74,000 square foot warehouse's most recent occupant.


The Dozier and Gay Paint Company in 1944. The southwest corner of the Kelly Furniture Company can be seen to the left.  Today, the S-Line Greenway has replaced the railroad and the paint company has been demolished and is used as a parking lot for the Kelly Furniture Company building. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/52862


12th Street and Hubbard Street. The Kelly Furniture Warehouse is located on the left. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/52856











GRAYBAR ELECTRIC COMPANY



Graybar's origins date back to post-Civil War Cleveland with the establishment of a small electrical appraratus business by Enos Barton and George Shawk. In 1869, Shawk's interest in the business was bought out by Elisha Gray.

Incorporated as Western Electric Manufacturing Company in 1872,business rapidly increased with the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell and the incandescent lamp by Thomas Alva Edison.

In 1926, a separate entity was established for the distribution of supplies and equipment.  This entity was named "Graybar" in honor of Gray and Barton.  Soon, the company built a warehouse in Springfield at 12th and Main Streets for the Jacksonville market.  Today, Graybar's local facility is located on Jessie Street near Talleyrand.

Today, 2202 North Main Street is occupied by Screen Process Printers, Inc.



AMERICAN BAKERIES CORPORATION (HOSTESS BRANDS, INC.)


American Bakeries (Merita Bread) in 1933. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51353

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.

Quote
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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merita_Breads

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.





DORSEY COMPANY BAKERY



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.



BAKERY CONFECTIONARY TOBACCO WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION AFL-CIO



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


COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY


The Coca-Cola Bottling Company in 1934. Courtesy of the Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51378

The former Coca-Cola Bottling Company building is one of the warehouse district's most iconic structures. coca-Cola, which had operated a bottling plant in Jacksonville since 1905, built this plant in 1927 at 14th and Market Streets. Prior to Springfield, the company was one of the many industries that once lined West Bay Street in LaVilla.


Inside the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in 1948. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51588



During the company's 41 years of operation in Springfield, it grew to consume adjacent properties along 14th Street.  The Mehlas Warehouses and Mavis Bottling Works were two of these properties.



MEHLAS WAREHOUSES


The Mehlas Warehouses in 1926. Courtesy of the Telfair Stockton & Company industrial advertisement.

Coca-Cola utilized the Mehlas Warehouses for product storage.  The Mehlas complex was completed in 1926 and housed companies that supported the larger manufacturing and distribution companies in the area.  Some of its earliest tenants included the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company (bakery), Michelin Tire Company, and Excelsior Mills Corporation (automobile upholstry).  Michelin and Excelsior Mills were within a one block walk of the Studebaker and Chevrolet parts warehouses.

Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company was founded in 1902 by Joseph Loose, Jacob Loose, and John H. Wiles in Kansas City. In 1946, the company's name was officially changed to Sunshine Biscuit, Inc.  Their most popular products were animal crackers and Trump's cookies. At the time of its purchase by Keebler in 1996, Sunshine Biscuits was the third largest cookie baker in the United States.  








MAVIS BOTTLING COMPANY OF AMERICA


The Mavis Bottling Company, shortly after opening. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51348

Founded in 1926 by Charles G. Guth, a Baltimore candy maker, the Mavis Bottling Company of America built their factory across the street from Coca-Cola, at 14th and Market Streets in 1927.  It was one of eight plants Guth built across the country to produce a new chocolate drink called "Mavis".

In 1929, Mavis was consolidated into another company Guth was involved with called Loft, Inc. Loft owned and operated 200 candy stores with soda fountains that purchased over 31,500 gallons of Coca-Cola syrup each year.

After Coca-Cola refused to give him concessions on the sale of cola in his Loft stores, Guth started selling Pepsi.  When Pepsi-Cola went bankrupt in 1931, he purchased the company for $10,500, turning it into a national brand.  As Pespi grew, the Mavis Bottling Company was then absorbed into Pepsi-Cola and by 1936, Pepsi had become the nation's second largest soda company.

Loft, Inc. closed the Jacksonville Mavis bottling plant in 1930.  Coca-Cola expanded the building in 1946 and utilized as a cooler department, sign painting department, and private garage. In 1968, this bottling plant was replaced by a larger facility in Jacksonville's Westside.




A Coca-Cola truck on the property of the former Mavis Bottling Company. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167782




DUVAL SPIRITS, INC.



Now the location of Habijax, 2404 North Hubbard Street is one of the last warehouses constructed in the Springfield Warehouse District.  Completed in 1951, it was the location of Duval Spirits, Inc. HabiJax of Jacksonville is the largest of the 1,600+ affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International (HFH) in the United States.




Habijax's parking lot on the southside of 14th Street was the location of Elder Moving & Storage-Mayflower Company.  


Elder Moving & Storage Company/Mayflower Warehouses, Inc. at 14th and Hubbard Streets in 1940. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51275


A Man working in the office of the Elder Moving and Storage company in 1943. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51444

Article by Ennis Davis. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com


This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-feb-neighborhoods-springfield-warehouse-district


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