Tunnels in Florida are difficult to find. Hundreds of thousands of people drive over one in LaVilla without even noticing. Below Interstate 95, the Myrtle Avenue Subway was constructed by the Jacksonville Terminal Company in the early 20th century. The central section of the subway accommodated a streetcar line that connected Westside neighborhoods with LaVilla and Downtown Jacksonville.
By 1905, the Jacksonville Terminal Company had become a congested destination where virtually every carload to or from the Florida peninsula passed through its facilities. To overcome this problem, the Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Company was established to connect and serve railroad operations with support facilities such as warehouses, elevators, and wharves. In addition to opening a freight depot in LaVilla, 1.48 miles of track were installed along Forsyth and Houston Streets to serve new industry. An Armour & Company meat packing plant was one of many industrial users served by the A&ECT;. This building at 1287 West Forsyth Street was once used as the district offices for Armour.
Served by the A&ECT;, 141 North Myrtle Avenue was occupied by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company for many years. An adjacent warehouse was occupied by Western Union. The building is now owned by U-Haul.
In 1907, this West Adams Street building near Myrtle Avenue, was completed for the Southern Express Company. It served as a stable to house its horse-drawn wagons and livestock being utilized to carry passengers and freight to and from the train station. Today, McGill’s Custom Counter Tops, Inc. manufactures a variety of countertops in this space.
The Duval Market & Association was established at the southwest corner of Myrtle and Adams Street. Adjacent to the Railway Express Agency terminal, the market featured more than 40 vendors, including a barbershop, coffee shop and restaurant. In addition, for several years, a fish market operated next door. This market declined with the opening of the larger Jacksonville Farmers Market In 1938. Today, this Adams Street warehouse dating back to 1914, is occupied by Sunn Battery Company.
This warehouse was completed in 1981 for Olcott Enterprises Freezing & Cold Storage. Olcott was owned by Harry E. Olcott Sr. Olcott came to Jacksonville in the 1930s and established the Fulton Fish Company in the community of Fulton near Fort Caroline. In the 1940s, the business was relocated to 144 North Myrtle Avenue.
*Founded in 1838, Bethel Baptist Institutional Church is the oldest Baptist congregation in Jacksonville. In 1846, the church constructed a new brick sanctuary adjacent to a stream known as Brickyard Branch. Shortly after the church was completed, Deacon of the church, and enslaver Elias G. Jaudon acquired additional property for use as a burial ground. By 1859, the congregation had grown 250 enslaved and 40 white members. In Spring 1861, the church and cemetery was abandoned in favor of a new location closer to town.
During the Civil War, the churchyard became Camp Virginia anchored by the 2nd Florida Infantry. A few months later, it became the site of the Skirmish of the Brick Church. This fight was the first land engagement in Northeast Florida between the Union Army and Confederate Army of the American Civil War. It was fought on March 24, 1862 and resulted in the first Confederate victory in Florida.
Despite the history of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church Cemetery, around 1949, a series of warehouses initially occupied by the Warner Brothers Picture Distribution Corporation, Benton Brothers Film Express and Seabrook Truck & Tractor Company were built on top of the cemetery.
*Family owned and operated, the Main Metal Recycling Company has been in business since the 1960s. The ferrous scrap metal recycling company occupies the former Florida Machine & Foundry plant on West Church Street.
Originally known as the Florida Machine Works, Florida Machine & Foundry relocated from Brooklyn to this West Church Street location in 1924. For the next sixty plus years the foundry would buzz with activity employing hundreds of Jaxons, including Mitch Raikes, the founder of Larry’s Giant Subs. However, by the 1990s, the foundry was no more.
The Florida Ice & Coal Company was established by Albert Dixon in 1913. It manufactured and delivered ice to Jaxsons in the days before the refrigerator became a common household appliance. The ice plant and surrounding blocks eventually became the manufacturing operations of the Moore Dry Kiln Company.
Founded by Lafayette Moore and now known as USNR, the company relocated its manufacturing operations to the Westside a few years ago.
In 1886, in order to connect the Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad to the Florida, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, the Jacksonville Belt Railroad was constructed between Springfield and LaVilla. Over the years, it became known as the S-Line. At Honeymoon Yard, it served several manufacturers and wholesalers in on the west side of LaVilla. Abandoned completely by the early 2000s, 4.8-miles of the abandoned railroad became Jacksonville’s first dedicated urban bike path in 2008.
Founded in 1946, the Standard Feed Store near Myrtle Avenue & Kings Road is the oldest seed and feed store remaining in Jacksonville.
1030 Wilcox Street was completed in 1926.
1274 West State Street was built in 1950 as a warehouse for the Dixie Lily Milling Company.Founded in Tampa in 1933, the brand can still be found throughout the Southeast. Today, the building is home to the Palm Tree Spa and Cafe.
This image captures the remnants of a brick warehouse and S-Line rail siding on Wilcox Street. The brick wall is all that remains of the old Flowers Baking Company bakery at 825 Myrtle Avenue. Flowers operated their Jacksonville bakery here before building a larger facility on West 30th Street in 1965.