Looking south along King Street, towards the intersection of Rosselle Street.

An acronym for “Corner of Roselle and King”, CoRK Arts District is a network of once abandoned warehouses and underutilized spaces that have become home to several art studios, galleries and production spaces along the CSX A-Line in Riverside.

The district dates back to the late 19th century when the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway was completed between Jacksonville and Palatka in 1881. Later becoming a part of Henry B. Plant’s Plant System, this railroad would eventually bring an end to the St. Johns River steamboat era. Following the Great Fire of 1901, this stretch of the railroad line became an early location for planing mills and other forms of industry on the outskirts of Downtown Jacksonville.

In 1985, Riverside became the first neighborhood in Jacksonville to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While that effort did not focus on the industrial corridor adjacent to the neighborhood, several warehouses there have their own interesting historical stories to share. Here are five stories connected to Riverside’s industrial sites and history.

A piece of the famed Biltmore Hotel

Bold City Brewery was Jacksonville’s first modern craft brewery when it opened its doors at 2670-7 Roselle Street in 2008. However, the industrial building it occupies has a much longer history. The complex was originally built for the Schell-Sasse Manufacturing Company during the 1920s. Schell-Sasse manufactured millwork, sash and doors for a number of clients including George E. Merrick and his luxurious Biltmore Hotel. Located in Coral Gables, the Biltmore was the tallest building in Florida when it was completed in 1926.

After Schell-Sasse, the warehouse complex housed Tinsley White Rucker, IV’s Dixon Powdermaker Furniture Company. Born in Warrenton, Georgia, Rucker IV graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1931 with a degree in building construction. His Dixon Powdermaker was considered to be one of the finest furniture manufacturers of its day, making products that were one hundred percent wood. Today, the former Schell-Sasse industrial is home to a number of businesses including Bold City Brewery, Just Brew It and Cafaro Creations, LLC.

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. Courtesy of Ebyabe and Wikipedia.

Pepsi was bottled here

648 King Street.

Located at the intersection of Roselle and King Streets, 648 King Street was the Thomas Beverage Company between 1933 and 1946. Operated by Lois H. Thomas, Thomas Beverages was a woman-owned soft drink bottler. Mrs. Thomas had previously operated the Jacksonville Ne-Hi Bottling Company at 651 Stockton Street during the 1920s.

In 1946, the property became the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Jacksonville under the management of W. Gwyn Thomas. Pepsi-Cola operated this warehouse as a bottling plant until 1957. After Pepsi moved on, the building was used as a cold storage warehouse by the Deal-Warren Refrigeration Company. Today, the former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant is home to several smaller businesses including Blue Buddha Exotic Foods, Inc., Cool Stuff Vintage and Flaire Antiques.

A 1944 advertisement identifying the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Jacksonville. Courtesy of U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 for Jacksonville in 1944 on Ancestry.com.

Matchbooks and beer made here before art

Established in 2011, the Cork Arts District features over 80,000-square-feet of warehouse space centered around artist studios and galleries. With a mission to support artists in an environment that is conducive to creativity and collaboration, the complex is named as an acronym for the “Corner of Roselle and King” streets.

The oldest CoRK warehouse at 2689 Roselle Street was built in 1926. At the time, it was occupied by the Atlantic Match Company, a manufacturer of matchbooks. New Jersey-based Peter Ballantine & Sons was another early tenant. At its height, Ballantine was the fourth largest brewer in the country. A third tenant, New York-based Francis H. Leggett & Company was internationally known for tea leaves. An abandoned rail siding through the CoRK property once shipped beer for Peter Ballantine & Sons and soft drink products for a nearby Pepsi bottling plant. Other previous tenants include the Shaver Brothers canning factory, Florida Electric Supply Company and State Beverage Distributors.

A sacrifice to the civil rights movement

The former Dinsmore Dairy Company at 660 King Street.

660 King Street was a dairy plant built during the 1930s for the Dinsmore Dairy Company. Established by V.C. Johnson, a personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dinsmore Dairy Company was known for its Guernsey Cows. “Johnson’s baby milk” was advertised as the cleanest milk for infants, with the lowest bacteria count. Johnson was a personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., openly pro-desegregation. During the 1950s, the family was involved with the NAACP, SCLC, the Human Relations Council, Urban League, Eartha White and Clara White Mission.

In 1959, as a result of its owners being prominent white supporters of civil rights in Jacksonville, the Dinsmore Dairy was forced out of its retail business by the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens’ Councils. The Borden Dairy Company took over the King Street dairy. Borden closed the plant in 1991 as part of a failed restructuring plan to integrate the company’s brands and marketing efforts. Today, Leggett Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. occupies the former Dinsmore Dairy Company site.

The world’s third largest dairy company

The former Foremost Dairies, Inc.milk processing factory at College and Rubel Streets.

The Reinhold Ice Cream Company was founded by Paul Reinhold in Oakmont, PA in 1916. During the Great Depression, Reinhold began implementing innovative techniques to free ice cream at his factory. In 1931, he was approached by J.C. Penney, founder of the department store chain and Clay County town of Penney Farms, to lead an ice cream and dairy operation in Florida. As a result, Reinhold moved to Jacksonville to run a new company named in honor of Penney’s prized Guernsey bull, Foremost. The main plant was located along a streetcar line at 2903 College Avenue in Riverside.

By 1955, Foremost Dairies had grown to become the third-largest dairy company in the world with $400 million in annual sales. The Riverside ice cream and milk processing plant was eventually acquired by Louisville-based Flav-O-Rich and ceased operations in 1991. While the former milk processing factory still stands, remaining portions of the industrial complex are being developed into housing and self storage uses.

A 1944 advertisement identifying the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Jacksonville. Courtesy of U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 for Jacksonville in 1944 on Ancestry.com.

New houses currently under construction on the former Foremost Dairies, Inc. parking lot.