The old South Jacksonville Utilities building, now home to Aardwolf Brewing Company, sits along Hendricks Avenue as a reminder of a time when that corridor acted as the center of “South Jacksonville”.
South Jacksonville was a city incorporated following the Great Fire of 1901. It sprung up quickly along stretches of Hendricks Ave. and other nearby streets – the city hall building still stands next to Panera Bread.
The building that now houses Aardwolf was constructed in 1927 for the South Jacksonville Utilities Company. It was used as an ice factory – such factories were common in the railroad era, when ice was needed by trains passing through. It was one of several ice houses operated by South Jacksonville Utilities, which had been established over a decade earlier.
Its location right across the street from what was then the San Marco Train Station was perfect for business.
South Jacksonville ceased to exist in the early 1930s, but production didn’t stop at the ice factory. According to Debra Webb Rogers’ book “Jacksonville’s Southside”, Consumers Ice Company was the operator in 1949 – 17 years after South Jacksonville was absorbed into Jacksonville.
In 1954, the building was taken over by Moyer Marble & Tile Company. The company added a showroom to the building; the difference in architecture between the original building and its add-on is quite jarring. The original building was put into use as a warehouse.
Moyer Marble & Tile was founded in 1926, around the same time the building was originally built. The move to the old ice factory building coincided with Moyer’s son taking over the family business and expanding it. Moyer provided ceramic tile and stone contracting services throughout the Southeast.
Moyer would occupy the building from 1954 through the remainder of the century. In the early 2000s, the company decided to move its operations to a location along Philips Highway near The Avenues.
The building then sat empty for a few years, coinciding with a national economic recession that greatly affected the construction and development industry.
Aardwolf Brewing Company, formed by Michael Payne and Preben Olsen, announced plans in 2012 to purchase and open a brewery operation in the building. They were attracted to the historic aspect of the building as well as the potential of the surrounding area.
A year later, Aardwolf opened its doors. Initially only the taproom was open as they worked to finish up the brewery operation and get their permits secured; the full operation was open by the end of 2013.
Today, Aardwolf’s taproom and brewery operations are going strong after a few years in its “new” home. The brewery’s family and pet friendly environment strongly appeals to San Marco residents. Since the brewery’s opening, Panera Bread has also opened across the street, with La Nopalera and other tenants soon to join them in the revitalized San Marco Station. Just down the street sits V Pizza and Sidecar, and in the other direction a new Bold Bean location just opened up. As Aardwolf’s founders predicted, the area is full of potential and ready to grow.
While the South Jacksonville Utilities Company building may not be the most glamorous historical building in the city, it’s still great to see it being preserved and put to good use almost 90 years later.