Anheuser-Busch refrigerated rail car. Courtesy of Anheuser-Busch.

By 1913, Anheuser-Busch had constructed a large, elaborate two story brick structure that contained a saloon, beer bottling, and bottle storage facing the 600 block of West Bay Street. At the center of the building was a covered first floor opening that allowed horse drawn wagons access to beer distribution operations hidden from the street. These included a bottling warehouse, barrel storage, bottle storage and a large rail shipping area built over McCoys Creek. With a large red light district (link), saloons and theaters nearby, additional beer and liquor operations opened nearby.

Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association’s LaVilla beer depot building is highlighted in yellow. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida.

For several years, Gustav Muller ran the G. Muller & Company immediately next door to Anheuser-Busch. The owner of downtown’s Hotel Burbridge, Muller’s company was a liquor, Chattanooga Beer, and Schlitz Beer distributor. In 1914, his business relocated to Enterprise Street and now exists as a ghost sign adjacent to Engine 15 Brewing Company’s outdoor bier garden.

The G. Muller & Company beer ghost sign at Engine 15’s brewery in the Rail Yard District.

LaVilla’s time as the city’s main hub for beer and liquor came to an end with Prohibition. Anheuser-Busch later returned to Jacksonville in a big way, with the 1969 opening its large North side brewery. As for the impressive brick beer warehouse constructed on West Bay Street in the heart of Railroad Row, it was razed years ago. This block is now a surface parking lot with multiple skyway lines running overhead.


Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at