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Jacksonville Ford Motor Co. Plant | Photo © 2019 Bullet, www.abandonedfl.com

Jacksonville Ford Motor Co. Assembly Plant

Location Class:
Built: 1923 | Abandoned: N/A
Status: Demolished
Photojournalist: David Bulit

Ford’s Early Years

Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903, with $28,000 in cash from twelve investors, most notably John and Horace Dodge who had founded their own company just a few years prior.

During its early years, the company produced just a few cars a day from its factory in Detroit, Michigan. Between 1903 and 1908, Ford produced the Models A, B, C, F, K, N, R, and S, most of which sold in the hundreds or few thousands a year. In 1908, Ford introduced the mass-produced Model T, which would sell in the millions.

Highland Park, Michigan Plant

Inspired by Packard’s assembly plant in Detroit, Henry Ford commissioned Albert Kahn Associates to design Ford’s Highland Park plant in Michigan. Along with his younger brother Julius, they developed a new style of construction where reinforced concrete replaced wood in factory walls, roofs, and supports which gave better fire protection and allowed large volumes of the unobstructed interior.

The Highland Park plant was completed in 1910 and included offices, a power plant, and a foundry. It was the largest manufacturing facility in the world at the time of its opening at over 120 acres, and with its spacious design, it set the precedent for future factories and plants.

On October 13, 1913, the Highland Park Plant became the first automobile production facility in the world to implement the moving assembly line. Due to the new assembly line, the production time of the Model T was cut down from 12 hours and 8 minutes to just an hour and a half. This also allowed them to lower the cost of the Model T from $700 to just $350 by 1917, making it a very affordable automobile for many Americans.

Due to rising demand, Ford commissioned Albert Kahn to design the River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan. Being 1.5 miles wide by 1 mile long, it was the largest manufacturing facility after its completion in 1928. Wanting to spread out his investment as well the growing demand for vehicles, Kahn was also asked to design 17 smaller satellite factories throughout the world, including one in Jacksonville, Florida.

Henry Ford
Henry Ford, ca.1919

Jacksonville Ford Motor Co. Plant

In 1923, the former Bentley Shipyards property was purchased from the city of Jacksonville at $50,000. Construction began on the 115,200-square-foot, $2 million complex on January 23, 1924, and was completed in just 6 months. The complex included a powerhouse that contained two 225-horsepower boilers and a river-fed 75,000-gallon water tower which was built for the sole purpose of combating fires. The front of the building housed a parts department and its own showroom for finished automobiles.

In an effort to keep up with demands, 50,000 square feet were added to the east side on November 13, 1926. By 1927, the plant had produced nearly 75,000 automobiles, and nearly 15,000 trucks. The Model T was replaced with the new Model A in 1928, and the plant was retrofitted to begin production of the Model A. Operations continued as normal until 1932 when the Great Depression made it so smaller satellite plants weren’t needed. Ford continued using the building as a parts distribution center until 1968.

Inside the Ford Motor Co. plant in Jacksonville, 1948. State Library and Archives of Florida
Another photo showing the interior of the Ford Motor Co. plant in Jacksonville, 1948. State Library and Archives of Florida


Throughout the years, the building became home to various companies, including a European-import firm, and a van conversion business. Eventually, it became nothing more than a storage facility, most recently for a wooden pallet manufacturer.

In February 2015, 35 acres next to the Mathews Bridge, including the old Ford plant, were purchased by Amkin Hill Street LLC for $4.4 million. According to the previous owner, while Amkin’s manager operated out of Miami, the family is based out of Madrid, Spain, and invests in properties around the world.

In October 2022, it was announced that the only factory Ford ever built in Florida is being torn down. The Jacksonville Ford Assembly Plant was built in 1924 and designed by Albert Kahn who designed many other Ford factories throughout the nation including their main plant in Highland Park, Michigan. Albert Kahn also designed the iconic Packard Plant in Detroit which was also announced the same year to be demolished.

Jacksonville City Council voted to have the plant demolished. It was designated a local landmark in 2003 but has fallen so far into disrepair that its current owner requested permission to tear it down to redevelop the waterfront site, possibly for a new ship repair facility. Preservations hoped to at least have a portion of the plant preserved but that request was denied. In June 2023, the old Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant was demolished.

You can read about the Jacksonville Ford Motor Co. Assembly Plant and many other abandoned places in my books, Abandoned Jacksonville: Remnants of the River City and Abandoned Jacksonville: Ruins of the First Coast.

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Aerial view of the Ford Motor Co. plant in Jacksonville on the St. John’s River.

Photo Gallery


David Bulit is a photographer, author, and historian from Miami, Florida. He has published a number of books on abandoned and forgotten locales throughout the United States and continues to advocate for preserving these historic landmarks. His work has been featured throughout the world in news outlets such as the Miami New Times, the Florida Times-Union, the Orlando Sentinel, NPR, Yahoo News, MSN, the Daily Mail, UK Sun, and many others. You can find more of his work at davidbulit.com as well as amazon.com/author/davidbulit.

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