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Loeb-Hilburn House | Photo © 2023, www.abandonedfl.com

Loeb-Hilburn House

Location Class:
Built: 1886 | Abandoned: N/A
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (1983)
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: David Bulit

Marcus Loeb

Marcus Loeb was born on December 27, 1852, in Kirrweiler, Germany. His father was a farmer who specialized in growing grapes and making fine wines. Loeb attended local schools and took after his father by apprenticing in the wine business. On November 2, 1870, he left for the United States in search of better opportunities, sailing to America from Hamburg on the “CYBRIA,” and arriving in New York on November 14, 1870.

He first moved to Plymouth, Indiana where he spent two years working as a store clerk. He decided to move south and relocated to the Carolinas and then sometime in the late-1870s, he moved to Palatka, Florida. After saving up about $600, he started a small clothing store and saloon. Between 1878 and 1883, the Calhoun House, better known as the Azalea House, was constructed by Loeb for Judge Julian Caldwell Calhoun, known for its encircling verandas, multi-gabled roof, and stained glass windows.

Marcus Loeb
Marcus Loeb

Lena Mayer, who was also a German immigrant, lived with her brother in Demopolis, Alabama. Lena’s brothers owned a general merchandise store in Demopolis and were founding officers of the local Bnai Brith Lodge and the local Temple where a third brother, Lehman, acted as Rabbi for many years. The couple married in 1882 and had five children, four daughters and one son—Viola, Helen, Rosalie, Lillian, and Leman. Leman died at the age of 19 and two babies died in infancy. Lena went home in 1890 to have one child born there, Rosalie, who was born in Trier, Germany.

In 1886, Loeb constructed a large Queen Anne-style home which he called “Whitehall.” Mrs. Andrews, a resident of Palatka Florida had this to say in her late 90s, remembering the Loebs from her years as a young girl, “The Loebs were quite a well-to-do Jewish family, built that house. And they had a horse and carriage, servants, so we could go across the alley into the vacant lot and pick flowers, and play, where we were never supposed to… you know, horses ran all over the streets, and you were bound to get hurt.” Mrs. Andrews remembered that the Loebs had a parrot that would remark “Daddy’s home”, Daddy’s Home” whenever Mr. Loeb returned from work.”

On November 17, 1983, the home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing structure of the Palatka North Historic District. The Loeb-Hilburn House is one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture in the neighborhood. It is described as having a “complex facade organization, profuse wood ornamentation, and a three-story tower with leaded stained glass fenestration. The Walton House is most noteworthy for its undulating facades caused by a series of interesting gables and projecting highly-ornamented porches, verandas, and bay windows.”

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Marcus and Lena Mayer Loeb. Geni.com; Yossi Loeb

Loeb was active in the business, financial and political affairs of Palatka. He was vice-president of the Old East Florida Saving & Trust Co., and President of the Palatka Telephone Company in 1894. He was a member of the city council from 1884 to 1886 and served a term as Mayor. He was also a member of the Palatka Masonic Lodge and served as Treasurer for 12 years and as Grandmaster.

Palatka’s great fire occurred on November 7, 1884, virtually wiping out the entire business district, including Loeb’s store. His damages were estimated at $25,000, of which $10,000 was covered by insurance. In 1898, he was the owner of an orange orchard when a freeze destroyed the crop. That, coupled with a desire to be a part of a larger Jewish community, caused him to move his family to Atlanta, Georgia, wherein in 1899 he opened a factory for manufacturing overalls and other work clothes for men. The corporation was known as Marcus Loeb & Company and employed approximately 300 people. He resided in Atlanta until his death on September 16, 1930, where he is buried at Oakland Cemetery.

marcus loeb company
Marcus Loeb & Company letterhead, 1920

Col. Samuel J. Hilburn

After Marcus Loeb moved out of his home, Colonel Samuel Johnson Hilburn would later occupy the home. Samuel Hilburn was born in Gainesville, Arkansas on May 30, 1869, spending much of his early life on a farm. Upon completion of his high school education, he obtained a teacher’s certificate and taught for three years prior to entering Centenary College, where he won a medal for Oratory. In 1894 he graduated from Cumberland University with the degree of Bachelor of Laws.

That same year, he was admitted to the bar in Wilson County, Tennessee, and moved to Palatka afterward where he served as city attorney for 11 years, and as chairman of the county school board for seven years. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1909, and the State Senate in 1911. He resigned from the position to run for Congress but lost by just a small margin of 384 votes out of 25,000 votes cast. Samuel would later again be elected to the State Senate in 1933.

In 1915, he was appointed Judge of a new circuit court by Governor Trammell but did not serve, as the Supreme Court of Florida invalidated the act of creating the circuit. Samuel was also appointed a member of the state racing commission by former Governor Cone and reappointed by Governor Holland. He was also a Royal Arch Mason and served as grand chancellor of the Knights of Pythias. He died on September 27, 1943, due to a heart attack and is buried at West View Cemetery in Palatka.

Samuel Hilburn
Colonel Samuel Johnson Hilburn. The Weekly True Democrat

Photo Gallery


The Weekly True Democrat. (April 9, 1909). Hon. Samuel J. Hilburn

National Register of Historic Places. (November 17, 1983). Palatka North Historic District

Geni.com; Yossi Loeb. (retrieved November 12, 2021). Marcus Loeb (1852-1930)


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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