In 1954, Ambrosia was acquired by Kansas City-based Interstate Bakeries Corporation (IBC). The purchase was IBC’s first move into the South. Interstate organized Ambrosia as a separate cake division with annual sales of $1.5 million, using the brand names Dolly Madison and Ambrosia with Earle P. Colby heading as president over an area stretching from Key West to Washington, DC and from Arkansas to the Atlantic. The business would go on to eventually become Hostess Brands, owning brands such as Hostess, Wonder Bread, Nature’s Pride and Dolly Madison. However, growth of the company involved abandoning the aging Eastside bakery.

Courtesy of Hostess brands

IBC’s move led to brothers Clayton and Willard Smith moved their bicycle business into the building in 1956. Founded by the Smith brothers in Miami in 1944, Clayton-Willard Bicycles had relocated to Jacksonville nearly a decade earlier in 1948. In 1976, the company started making the Emory bicycle at this location, establishing itself as the country’s first manufacturer of the beach cruiser. Eventually, Clayton-Willard Bicycles was rebranded as the Emory Manufacturing Company. Today, Emory continues its bicycle operation within this historic, architecturally unique urban core industrial property.

Emory Mojave Beach Cruiser. Courtesy of Emory Manufacturing Corporation.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro and — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at