Old Candy Factory in Saint Louis

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri
Date added: December 29, 2023 Categories:
Facade looking south (2005)

Constructed in 1909-11, the Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building is located at 1928-30 Martin Luther King, St. Louis, Missouri. Although, built to house a furniture business and auction house, the most successful tenant was the Jack Rabbit Candy Company which specialized in confectionery manufacturing in St. Louis from 1918 until 1952. The company continued to grow and prosper even through many waves of economic misfortune in St. Louis and the nation. By 1941, they were one of only two candy companies in St. Louis that produced their confectionery specialties. The early history of the building includes two successful furniture and warehouse businesses (Stoecker and Price and E.H. Langan Furniture) and briefly an auction house (Mound City Auction). It was designed by local architect and Master Mason, Herbert W. Powers.

Since its early days, St. Louis has been known for its importance as a trading center for the Mississippi Valley contributing its economic success largely to the development of its manufacturing industries. St. Louis was widely recognized for its leadership in the manufacturing of beer, shoes, garments, and stoves. In 1920, when the Prohibition Amendment knocked St. Louis's brewing industry to its knees other industries filled the gap. Recognition can be given to the confectionery trade and furniture industry as two of the manufacturers that contributed to the continued industrial growth for the city.

By the turn of the century, St. Louis was becoming known as a leader in the furniture industry and the third-largest manufacturer in the United States. Compared to the 1880 census, the growth of this industry was over 100% by 1904 reflecting 72 furniture manufacturing and retail establishments in the city and employing about 1000 workers at a rate of around a half million dollars a year. Ten years down the road, the number of businesses had greatly increased to 150 employing in excess of 3000 persons with wages of more than two million dollars.

Prior to the boom in the furniture industry St. Louis citizens had to obtain furniture and household goods primarily from the East Coast resulting in higher prices. As the industry grew in St. Louis and production became more specialized, associated businesses such as new and used furniture retail stores, storage and distribution centers became a growing market to furniture business owners. In 1909, there were only three businesses listed in the city directory as providing storage and distribution for furniture in the city. The Stoecker and Price Company on Franklin became the fourth business listed in 1911 to provide these types of services. This service industry grew rapidly and by 1939, the number of retail furniture businesses handling new and used furniture in St. Louis was around 139 establishments employing 1495 persons.

America has had a love affair with candy since the early 1800s. By the mid-1800s, more than 380 American factories were producing penny candy sold by the pound in glass cases, boxes, and jars. It was available in general stores and pharmacies. Even rural America has small "candy kitchens" in the back rooms of retail stores becoming some of America's first candy shops. By the turn of the 20th century, new technologies in candy making and innovative tastes were unveiled at the 1904 World's Fair boosting the productivity of the candy industry and its popularity.

The candy business was also attractive to many immigrants. The simple operations were easy to set up and the family as a whole could contribute to the business. In 1880, the confectionery trade in St. Louis could boast of thirty-one establishments employing approximately 207 persons with $308,000 capital a year. By 1898, as reported by the Merchants Exchange report it had over 48 establishments producing approximately $4,500,000 resulting in St Louis becoming a confectionary leader for a primary market among the southern states. The U.S. Census of Manufacturers lists St. Louis as having 63 confectionary manufacturers in 1914 employing approximately 1,640 persons. In 1920 another significant rise occurred bringing the total to 89 establishments employing 2,096 persons. These figures only include the category of non-chocolate confections specifically lozenges, crystallized fruits and hard candy manufacturers in St. Louis.

The confectionery manufacturing establishments were seventh in quantity of listed industries in 1919. St. Louis was also one of the leaders in Missouri ranking over 40% of the confectionery manufacturing facilities for the state in 1919.

The peak of the confectionery manufacturing period in St. Louis was between 1923 and 1929. The Roaring Twenties was an era when our entire country prospered tremendously. The nation's total realized income rose from $74.3 billion in 1923 to $89 billion in 1929. A major reason for this was the increased manufacturing output throughout this period. From 1923 to 1929 the average output per worker increased by 32% in manufacturing. However, the economic prosperity and growth was short-lived when the Great Depression spread to the industrialized world. The depression began in late 1929 and lasted for about a decade. By 1935, St. Louis's confectionary manufacturers dropped to 43 establishments and took another significant drop to 23 confectionary manufacturers by 1946 due to the impacts of World War II. In 1952 when the Jack Rabbit Candy Company closed due to the death of its president, Charles Vogel, there were only 10 confectionary manufacturing companies and 6 individuals listed as operating in St. Louis.

Building History

Stoecker & Price Company

Gustave Stoecker and Robert L. Price commissioned the construction of the building in 1909 to house their retail furniture and warehouse storage business. The new building was located in City Block 941 of the Christy Addition Subdivision in an area considered the Downtown West Neighborhood. The first location was located at 2918 Franklin from 1905 to 1916. They operated a retail furniture store specializing in new and used furniture.

The building was also used as a warehouse for storage of their goods until they could either be sold in the retail store or to area distributors at auction. Unfortunately, Gustave died at the early age of 38 on November 8th, 1911. Gustave's wife, Kate became the president of the business in 1913. The corporation papers also listed Gertrude Price as vice president and Robert Price as secretary. Robert continued to operate the business expanding operations to also include an auction house until 1925 when he sold the building to E.A. Furniture Dealers.

E.A. Langan Furniture

The Langan family had been in the furniture business since the late 19th century with several stores operated by various brothers in St. Louis. At the age of twenty, Edward A. Langan worked as a collector for his brother, Oliver P. Langan.

Realizing his economic opportunity, he soon ventured into his own furniture establishment located at 2004 Morgan (Delmar). In 1925, he moved his successful furniture business to 1928 Martin Luther King where he operated his business until 1935. He was known in St. Louis as being one of the leading retail furniture dealers in the city and having a thoroughly stocked furniture store with the latest and finest stock.

Jack Rabbit Candy Company

The Jack Rabbit Candy Company began its operations in 1918 by three prosperous young men, Eugene Tuchschmidt, Charles M. Vogel, and Henry Hill.

The company specialized in the manufacturing and buying and selling of confections. In its early years, the company produced colorful hard penny candies of green, red, and yellow that were sold to local shops and displayed in glass jars and bins. Production expanded later to the manufacturing of specialty stick candy of various flavors and colors, sugar puff balls, baked coconut logs, and their unique specialty the "candy apple on a stick". It also engaged in the wholesale and retail of other candy products, materials, and ingredients throughout Missouri.

The Jack Rabbit Candy Company began as an entrepreneurship of three immigrant families who continued the legacy locally for decades. Eugene Tuchschmidt's father, Arnold emigrated from Switzerland to America in the 1880s and began a family. In 1886, his son Eugene was born. Eugene began his career in the baking and confectionery business in the early 1900s when he was employed with Chapman & Smith Company in St. Louis as a salesman for bakers supplies. In 1908, Eugene married Dena and they had three sons, Eugene, John, and William who also played an active role with the family candy business along with their wives. Charles Vogel also came from an immigrant family from Germany who had a history in the candy-making business. Joseph Vogel and his three sons operated a family business, the Vogel Candy Company from 1900 until 1918 at 205 N. Main Street in St. Louis.

After World War I, the trio decided to begin their business venture. Due to the familiarity of the confectionary business, their family histories and the ease and low initial costs to begin operations, they decided to establish a family-operated candy manufacturing business. The company name derived from the inspiration of Eugene's young son, William who was playing on the floor with a metal toy jack rabbit. The toy jack rabbit became the company icon and remains with the family today as a remembrance to their legacy.

The Jack Rabbit Candy Company opened its doors in 1919 at its first location on Locust Street. They quickly outgrew its first location and moved their candy manufacturing plant to 600 N. 2nd Street, a popular area for St. Louis's manufacturing. This building had been occupied by the Kupferle Foundry since its construction in 1877 until 1922. In 1923, Jack Rabbit Candy Company filed incorporation papers with the Secretary of State, listing E.A. Tuchschmidt, President, Henry Hill, Vice President, and Charles M. Vogel, Secretary. The amount of the capital stock was $10,000 and a trademark "Jack Rabbit" was registered with the U.S. Patent Office.

In 1940, the Jack Rabbit Candy Company opened its second manufacturing location at 1928-1930 Franklin Avenue (Martin Luther King). The west end of Franklin Street was a prime location for the thriving candy manufacturer. A variety of diverse commercial businesses and manufacturing businesses had already begun to replace the small commercial retail stores and remaining flats in the area. Both locations were in operation and listed in the city directory until 1944. The first location at 600 N. 2nd Street was razed shortly thereafter and the land became part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park. The company operations were then moved entirely to its larger location at 1928 Franklin (Martin Luther King).

With the United States entering World War II in 1941, citizens and businesses were placed under a ration System to help aid in the wartime costs. Many companies that depended on sugar as a primary component for production went out of business due to sugar rations and the reduction of the amount of product that could be produced and the lack of consumer ability to purchase such a "luxury". Mrs. William Tuchschmidt recalls that many of the small family-owned candy businesses began to disappear throughout the depression and after the war there were even fewer. By 1941, she said the only other candy company in St. Louis that was a competitor to Jack Rabbit Candy Company was the National Candy Company. She boasted of the company's unique specialty the "candy apple on a stick". Apparently, this was one of their most popular sellers. Despite the economic downturns suffered nationally and locally during the Depression and the war, the Jack Rabbit Candy Company filed to increase its capital stock from $10,000 to $20,000 increasing its equity by 100% in April of 1942. At this time, Eugene's son John was the secretary of the company and his wife Dena was one of three major stockholders. Charles Vogel, one of the original partners was the President of the company. The business successfully operated until 1952 under the supervision of Charles Vogel and John Tuchschmidt. Upon the death of Charles Vogel the family decided to close the business. Shortly thereafter, the candy industry became more nationalized with larger companies buying out the smaller operations. Candy became more generalized in taste and less specialized ultimately leading to the closure of many smaller local companies.

Building Description

The Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, located at 1928-30 Martin Luther King (historically Franklin Avenue), St. Louis, Missouri is a three-story building primarily of steel, iron, and brick construction with white-glazed terra cotta embellishments. Constructed in 1909, the original footprint of the building is rectangular and sits slightly east of the southeast corner of Martin Luther King and N. Twentieth Street, facing MLK to the north. The facade has an elaborate white terra cotta cornice with a parapet that projects grandly above the roofline. A half-circle arch is centered on the parapet and a double bracketed terra cotta shelf sits directly below the roofline. The facade is divided into three bays with a set of three one-over-one double-hung wood windows with brick detailing and elaborate white terra cotta surrounds in each bay of the second and third floors. A terra-cotta cornice with decorative adornments divides the lower storefront from the upper floors. The lower storefront has had wood panels placed over it for security reasons but the main entrance is still intact and recessed on the center of the facade. Large plate glass wood windows flank the main entrance and wrap into the recessed entry. The original structure has a concrete foundation with a full basement. The roofline on the east and west elevations is stepped and has an intact terra cotta coping. A one-story masonry addition was added to the east side in 1965. Despite the infill on the exterior windows, the Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building retains the integrity to convey a strong manufacturing and commercial presence just as it did in 1909. The intricate terra cotta detailing remains intact on the facade and upon investigation and removal of wood panels, the main entrance, storefront and original windows are still are present. The interior floor plan, wood floors on the upper floors and staircase are still prominent interior features.

Facing north on Martin Luther King Drive, historically Franklin Avenue, the Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building is located one block west of the Franklin School. Areas directly north of the building are newer industrial construction and housing developments. The building sits on the southeast corner of N. 20th and Martin Luther King with an asphalt parking lot to the west and an alley running east to west at the rear elevation. Industrial and commercial construction from the 1950s and 1960s is adjacent to the alley at the south elevation. The original footprint of the building was a rectangular configuration measuring approximately 59' x 144' with a 1965 masonry addition added to the last bay of the east elevation. The one-story masonry block addition measures 40' x 100'. It has an open floor plan with a steel deck support. The original glass block windows are still intact on the north and east elevations. A small loading dock is located on the north elevation.

The foundation is reinforced concrete with a full basement and a concrete floor in the original building. A freight elevator is located in the southeast rear corner. The exterior walls are brick with a structural system of wood with steel I-beam supports. The roofline is stepped with five bays and a level asphalt roof system. The original terra cotta coping is still intact on the east and west elevations. A brick chimney is located in the third bay of the west elevation and an iron fire escape is located on the southwest corner of the rear elevation. The original elevator housing is located on the southeast corner of the roof.

The window fenestration on the second and third floors of the east and west elevations is identical and symmetrically spaced and continues to be evident even though the windows have been blocked in. The rear elevation has eight window openings on each floor and one entrance door with a fire escape.

In 1952, when the Jack Rabbit Candy Company discontinued operations, the window openings were blocked in on the east, west, and south elevations. However, the original openings are still evident. The north elevation continues to retain the original wood one-over-one double-hung windows on the second and third floors. It is divided into three bays each with a set of three windows with white terra cotta sills. The third-floor bays are defined by a brick dentil molding. The second-floor windows are separated by elaborate white terra cotta window surrounds with detailing of inverted crosses and interlocking rings. The second-floor windows have been partially covered with wood but remain intact.

The facade reflects classical details with a geometrically shaped parapet capped with white terra cotta and stylistic-shaped piers located at each corner of the roofline. A white terra cotta frieze with double brackets adorns the length of the facade. The sculpture work is similar to the window surrounds. A projecting white terra cotta cornice separates the storefront from the upper floors with the same classical sculpture work. The center section over the main entry has been covered with sheet metal but is still present. Larger inverted crosses with a decorative floral pattern separate the large storefront windows and main entrance. The primary recessed entrance is centered on the facade. It is covered with wood framing for security reasons but remains intact. Upon removal of the protective wood framing, the original storefront was revealed. The storefront door has been changed to aluminum but the original wood windows and transom with the original store signage are still present. Also, discovered behind the dirt and rubber mats was the original tile entry floor that depicts the original owners, "Stoecker and Price" in blue, gray, and white square 1"x1" tiles. The large storefront windows that flank the entrance remain intact. They have paneled wood transoms above and wood framing below that remains intact too.

The interior reveals a floor plan on the second and third floors that remains much as it did at construction with a primarily open layout with exposed steel and wood rafters due to its function as a large furniture and candy manufacturing facility. When the Jack Rabbit Candy Company moved into the building in 1940, some alterations were made to the rear portion of the building. The original wood-slatted floors remain in fairly good condition on the first, second, and third floors and the wood staircase to the third floor is in good condition.

The first floor remains open in the rear and some partitions were added in 1952 to the front portion when the auto store moved into the building. The windows on the east and west elevations of the upper floors were also blocked in at this time.

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri South and west elevations looking northeast (2005)
South and west elevations looking northeast (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Addition looking south (2005)
Addition looking south (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Addition windows (2005)
Addition windows (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri East elevation looking southwest (2005)
East elevation looking southwest (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri East elevation looking west (2005)
East elevation looking west (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Facade cornice looking south (2005)
Facade cornice looking south (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Facade detail looking south (2005)
Facade detail looking south (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Facade looking southwest (2005)
Facade looking southwest (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Facade looking south (2005)
Facade looking south (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Entrance looking south (2005)
Entrance looking south (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Storefront windows revealed looking south (2005)
Storefront windows revealed looking south (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Storefront wood trims revealed looking south (2005)
Storefront wood trims revealed looking south (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Entrance tile revealed (2005)
Entrance tile revealed (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Third floor interior looking north (2005)
Third floor interior looking north (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Second floor interior looking south (2005)
Second floor interior looking south (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri Third floor stair railing (2005)
Third floor stair railing (2005)

Jack Rabbit Candy Company Building, St. Louis Missouri First floor looking north (2005)
First floor looking north (2005)