Abandoned Jacksonville: The W.P. Sumner Company
Once part of Jacksonville's Ward Street red-light district, this brick structure was constructed in 1910 for the W.P. Sumner Company. The company was first founded in 1887 by William and Alberta Sumner as a grocery store mainly dealing with butter and cheese.
When William died in 1900, their son Charles took over the business. On May 3, 1903, Sumner's business was destroyed along with over 2,360 building during the Great Fire of 1901.
The business was reopened on Laura Street where it quickly grew leading to the need for a larger facility. this is when the four-story brick building on Ward Street would be constructed. Sumner operated a six-ton ice plant on the first floor, the second floor was used for cold storage and the third and fourth floors were used for dry storage.
While the manufacturing operations were located in the four-story structure, the business' retail was done through the connected single-story building.
Charles Sumner died in 1915 and his business ceased operations as well. A number of small businesses would occupy the buildings until 1920 when it would be occupied by the J.R. Berrier Ice Cream Company. By this time, Ward Street had been renamed Houston Street, and what was the city's red-light district was now filled with retail stores and wholesale businesses.