Urban Neighborhoods: Allendale

Metro Jacksonville takes a look at Allendale, an overlooked section of the urban core on Jacksonville's Westside.

Published March 18, 2013 in Neighborhoods - MetroJacksonville.com

About Allendale

Allendale is a neighborhood where heavy industry still flourishes with residential homes in close proximity. A time before zoning regulations were implemented to increase the distance between these land uses. The Westside neighborhood dates back to the early 20th century when Jacksonville underwent a rebuilding boom after the tragic destruction of the Great Fire of 1901. Before the construction of New Kings Road, it was a gateway to the Jacksonville area for those arriving from northwest.

It's proximity to Grand Crossing was a significant reason for the establishment of the early 20th century suburb along Old Kings Road. Grand Crossing was so named in 1899 when two railroads crossed the Waycross-Jacksonville line of the Savannah, Florida & Western (Plant System) at almost the same location. One was the Atlantic, Valdosta & Western and the other the Jacksonville & Southwestern Railroad. This dense network of rail lines and adjacent yards created an environment that attracted heavy industry in an area where Jacksonville's streetcar network was not readily available.  The platting and development of Allendale allowed workers to live in modest homes within short distance of their places of employment.  Edgewood Park lies at the center of the neighborhood.  A unique setting in Jacksonville, the wide linear park sits in the median of 12th Street and extends the length of the entire community.

Betsy Coleman and her plane in 1922. Courtesy of Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bessie_Coleman_and_her_plane_(1922).jpg

During the 1920's, Allendale was the site of one of Jacksonville's earliest airfields. Paxon Field was owned by Lily Fay Melson Paxon who married Edward Paxon. Tragedy struck on April 30, 1926 when Bessie Coleman (the world's first licensed black pilot) was killed in a plane crash while on the barn-storming circuit. During a test flight, Bessie's Jenny (airplane) went into a nose dive and Bessie was thrown from the plane to her death. During World War II, the airfield was used by the Navy as an outlying airfield for Jacksonville NAS & the training command. After the war, the airfield was sold to a developer who set aside the property for future schools.  In 1954, Paxon Field Junior-Senior High School opened to serve the rapidly growing neighborhoods of Allendale and adjacent Woodstock.

Melson Avenue, near Paxon High School in 1958. Courtesy of State Archives of Florida.

In 1925, the neighborhood was annexed by Jacksonville and remained the city's western border until consolidation in 1968. Despite dating back to the early 20th century, the area's greatest period of growth came as the automobile increased in popularity. Today, Allendale is no longer a gateway to Jacksonville. The roadway network that funneled people through the area has been replaced by highways that bypass the community.  However, the crossing of railroads that attracted early industry in the area still remain. These lines are now owned by Norfolk Southern and CSX, both of which still operate large railyards in close proximity of Allendale. Throughout the neighborhood's past, it has remained a working class community complementing nearby industrial facilities and railroad yards.

Images of Allendale

Paxon High School was originally named Paxon Field Junior-Senior High School when it was built in 1954. It included 7th through 12 grades until 1957, when Paxon Junior High was built nearby. Paxon became a college preparatory school and an International Baccalaureate school in 1996 and is now one of the top high schools in the nation.

Norfolk Southern's Simpson Yard anchors the north border of Allendale.

This group of warehouses, offering 316,000 square feet of space on Industrial Boulevard, was originally constructed by the Peninsular Warehouse Company.  Established in 1908 with a focus on food logistics and consumer goods warehousing, Peninsular was acquired by Raymond O'Dell, Sr. in 1912. In 2007, Peninsular Warehouse Company was rebranded as PenserSC and in 2010, the company constructed and relocated to a larger facility on Pritchard Road. Today, the fourth-generation family operated business is one of the southeast's leading logistics companies, operating over 2 million square feet of warehouse space in Jacksonville, Miami, and Orlando.

With as much as 624,000 square feet, the Anchor Glass Container Company is one of the largest companies operating in Allendale.  Paying between $400,000 to $900,000 a month on energy costs, it's also one of JEA's major accounts. Based out of Tampa, Anchor Glass Container Corporation is the third-largest manufacturer of glass containers in the United States. The Jacksonville plant, which manufactures bottles for the local Anheuser-Busch brewery, is one of eight plants operated by the Tampa-based company.

Glass making on the site actually dates as far back as the 1926 when Antonio Scalise founded the Tropical Glass and Box Company. Scalise's clients included Pepsi-Cola of Florida, Dixie Lily Company, and Frostie Root Beer.  Daily tours of the plant were also allowed between 10:30am and 4:30pm. By the 1960s, Tropical Glass and Box had been acquired by the Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation.  In 1983, Anchor Glass Container was carved out of Anchor Hocking by Wesray Capital Corporation, a private equity pioneer co-founded by William Simon, U.S. Treasury secretary in the Nixon and Ford administrations. Over the last twenty years, employment at Florida's only glass manufacturing plant has hovered between 235 and 400.

Edgewater Park stretches the length of the community in the median of West 12th Street.

The Jacksonville Coca-Cola Bottling Company operates production lines for three Coke products: 12-ounce cans, 2-liter bottles and Dasani bottled water at their Allendale facility. Coca - Cola , which has been operating a facility in Jacksonville for nearly 100 years, now employs about 480 workers. This bottling plant replaced Coca-Cola's Springfield Warehouse District location in 1968, which dated back to 1927.

Carlton Spence spent the first 25 years of his career with Colonial Stores, a national supermarket company eventually taken over by Grand Union Co. He started by cleaning fish and worked his way up to district manager, overseeing the operation of stores in Florida and southern Georgia from Jacksonville. At 42, he started his business, a grocery distributorship, in 1974. The company shortly became Beach Trading Co., which spawned several businesses including Industrial Cold Storage Logistics. From 1980 to 1985, the Spence family transformed ICS Logistics from the smallest cold storage business in Jacksonville to the largest with little fanfare or publicity.

Today, ICS is known as Seaonus Cold Storage.

The working class neighborhood of Allendale is located on the west side of Jacksonville, just north of Woodstock.

Article by Ennis Davis

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-mar-urban-neighborhoods-allendale

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