JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The former Ford Motor Company plant in Jacksonville is coming down, despite the objections of historical preservationists. The plant opened in 1924. It is the only factory Ford ever built in Florida.
It brought dozens of jobs for many people in the Bold City at the beginning of the 20th century. It was a small plant used to manufacture the Ford Model T.
Located in Tallyrand, on the St. Johns River, next to the Matthews Bridge, Ford ended production at the plant in 1932, but used it as a distribution hub until 1968.
The building was designated a local landmark in 2003, but it had since fallen into such disrepair that its current owner, Amkin Hill Street, LLC, requested permission to tear it down to redevelop the waterfront site.
The Jacksonville Historical Society wanted to preserve at least part of the building.
Alan Bliss with Jacksonville Historical Society reflects on the building’s significance. “It came to Jacksonville at a time in the early 1920s when this city was really blossoming becoming an industrial center a major seaport and a major center of employment a nexus of transportation.”
This plant contributed to the expansion of streets, roads, suburban expansion and new communities like Venetia and Ortega and San Jose; that all grew because of the automobile.
Bliss had hoped the building would have been restored. “The data supports, it supports an increase in property value and the surrounding region, increases the perception of authenticity to a place it cements in the minds of visitors, that it is a real place unlike anything else that it has a legitimate story of its own,” Bliss said.
However, during a recent city council meeting, Sonny Redmond who represented the building owners, said the damage was too far gone. City council committee voted 7 to 0 to allow demolition of the historic Ford building.
The address for the building, 1900 Wambolt Avenue, will be all that’s left, but the owners suggest there will be a profitable business to replace the history that sits there.
The hope is that it‘s just as prosperous in the 21st century as the building was in the 20th century.