5 More Places That Existed Then That Are Better Now

Here are five more historic sites in Jacksonville that have gotten better with age.

Published February 6, 2015 in History - MetroJacksonville.com

1. Maxwell House

Maxwell House around 1950. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/51410

Maxwell House opened in Jacksonville in 1910 under a different name-- the Cheek-Neal Coffee Co. West Bay Street was selected for the plant site because of its ability to receive coffee beans by barge. Since then, it has grown into a massive 400,000 square-foot coffee roasting plant downtown.

While the company itself has had notable success, it was not always easy for the Jacksonville plant. In fact, in 1990, the plant was almost shut down. The company was faced with the decision to close one of their two major plants—the one in Jacksonville, or the one in Hoboken. A city wide protest in Jacksonville, “Keep Max in Jax,” helped the plant in Jacksonville win.

Since then, the Jacksonville plant has seen a large amount of success and expansion. The plant operates around the clock and employs over 200 workers. The plant received over $25 million for technology advancements and expansion as a way to accommodate increased production. The plant is said to have a $600 million impact on Jacksonville annually.

2. Everbank Field

Gator Bowl under construction in 1949. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/166780

Everbank Field, then known as the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, opened in Jacksonville in 1995, the same year its home team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, would appear in the NFL. Everbank stood in place of the old Gator Bowl Stadium, covering 10 acres and holding a capacity of 73,000.

Fairfield Stadium was completed in 1928 to serve as a home field for Jacksonville's three new high schools-Lee, Jackson and Landon. With a seating capacity of 7,600, Governor John W. Martin declared that it was "the best place in Florida to watch a football game!" In 1948, capacity was expanded to 36,058 and the stadium was renamed the Gator Bowl.

Rebranded as the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in 1995, the stadium re-opened with a capacity of 73,000. The same year its home team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, would appear in the NFL. The stadium only had medial success over the years. By 2005, attendance was so low that games began to be blacked out and tarps were used to reduce the seating capacity, covering over 9,000 seats.  While their would be an attendance record broken in 2007, as fans gathered to watch FSU beat Alabama, Everbank would still struggle to prove as “valuable” to the city.

Things changed in 2010, though, as Everbank got its current name and the Jags saw a season with no blackouts. Everbank continues to be home to the infamous Florida-Georgia game annually, the Taxslayer Bowl, the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam, and was recently home to a US Men’s soccer game.

Everbank was a recent recipient of a $63 million renovation project in which two, 362-foot-long scoreboards, were put in to the endzones. These are the largest HD LED of their kind. The renovation also included two wading pools, new food and beverage offerings, and interactive activities for stadium visitors.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

3. Stein Mart

Original Greenville, MS Stein Mart store in 1964. http://andspeakingofwhich.blogspot.com/2012/03/stein-mart.html

Stein Mart was founded by Sam Stein, a Russian immigrant, who opened his first store in 1908.  Originally a Greenville, MS-based company, the store's focus on discount clothing came after Stein’s son, Jake, took over in 1932. In 1977, Jake's son, Jay, took over operations and began to pursue a plan of expansion. This plan included relocating the company's headquarters from Mississippi to Jacksonville.  

Under Jake’s leadership the company would take off, expanding from three stores in 1977 to 123 by the end of 1996. Jay Stein stepped down in 2002, but remained on in the company as a chairman. Today, the downtown Jacksonville-based company has over 260 stores in 29 states, particularly in the southeast region. In 2013, the company reported $1.26 billion in annual revenue.

4. Jacksonville Farmers Market

Aerial of Jacksonville Farmers Market on September 16, 1953. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/166908

The Jacksonville Farmer’s Market, formerly the Jacksonville Produce Market, opened in 1938. Originally, the JFM was a wood and sheet metal structure, featuring a produce packing plant, a barbershop, and a steakhouse.

Today, the JFM is one of Florida’s oldest farmers markets, and covers approximately 9 acres. It is approximated that the JFM has over 20,000 visitors a week! In the future, it has been mentioned that the JFM would like to bring in some new vendors—primarily bakers and meat makers. Nevertheless, today, there's over 100 vendors selling everything from flowers, honey, and boiled peanuts to baked goods, fresh local seafood and organic or specialty products.

A young lady models the "small" gift basket offered at Alma Produce.

5. San Marco Square

San Marco Square's Little Theatre in 1953. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/34787

San Marco Square was an idea of Telfair Stockton & Company, who developed the neighborhood of San Marco in 1920. Stockton laid plans for a triangular-shaped shopping district to be placed in the middle of this upcoming City of South Jacksonville neighborhood. Connected to neighboring Jacksonville by streetcar, this district became known as San Marco Square.

While San Marco Square was widely popular at the beginning, the commercial square had seriously declined by about 1970. Many of the square’s shops ended up closing. However, San Marco Square is one of the few remaining “authentic town centers” in Jacksonville, and as a result, in 1990 the City of Jacksonville took on a major renovation project that turned the square around.

Today, the square is a popular commercial destination for locals and tourists alike. The pedestrian friendly shopping district includes restaurants and bars, parks, several statues, lush landscaping, and pedestrian green spaces.

For More: 5 Places That Existed Then That Are Better Now

Article by Kristen Pickrell.

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-feb-5-more-places-that-existed-then-that-are-better-now-

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