Abandoned Florida: The W.P. Sumner Company

A look inside an abandoned building with 109 years of interesting historical stories to share.

Even though he was no longer in the ice cream business, Berrier continued to operate soda fountains in various locations in Jacksonville. In 1961, his business was picketed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) due to his refusal to hire any African American girls as waitresses. The picketing ended when a judge declared the picketing unlawful as it was accompanied by threats and intimidation of customers.

Back to 1924, Berrier moved out of the Houston Street building and Gray-VonAllmen Sanitary Milk Company moved in. The building was once again vacated during the Great Depression and sat empty until the Cunningham Furniture Company began using it for shipping its products. Cunningham Furniture Company was once one of the largest home furnishing businesses in the Southeast and Florida’s oldest furniture company. In 1936, Galinsky Plumbing would be the building’s next tenant, using it to store supplies and plumbing fixtures, and would operate out of there until the business’ closure in 1983.

The 1980s saw a number of restaurants come and go until 1992 when JoAnn’s Chili Bordello opened. JoAnn’s Chili Bordello was a small restaurant chain founded by Leonard Doctors and JoAnn Perschel. The restaurant was kinda like Hooters, except instead of being a sports bar, it was made to look like an old-fashioned bordello with red velvet, crystal chandeliers, waitresses dressed up in French Corsets and garter belts, and with the motto “seventeen varieties of chili served in an atmosphere of sin.” With a history like this along with the area’s former history of being a red-light district, it’s not surprising how this building is commonly thought of to have been an actual bordello in the past. In that regard, it’s interesting to note that the original location on Atlantic Boulevard was a strip club, before and after the restaurant’s establishment.

JoAnn’s Chili Bordello operated until 2000 when it would be occupied by a couple of bars such as the Sinclair, the Voodoo Lounge and Secret’s Wine Bar years later. The building has sat empty since 2014.

Article by Bullet at Abandoned Florida.

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