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Constructing Another Landmark: The Coca-Cola Bottling Plant



Over the past few years, I have been lucky to have had access to the archives of the Jungclaus-Campbell Company, the longest operating general contracting firm in the city. Since its founding in 1875, the company has constructed some of the great landmarks of the Circle City, as well as more everyday structures like homes and schools. Thankfully, many of these structures are still standing today. I have explored the history of the company and its projects through a series of blog posts, and with a dedicated page on this blog, which can be accessed here. Now, as we are nearing the conclusion of this series, I'm happy to report that the Jungclaus archives have been digitized by the IUPUI Library and are now available to the public online. A celebration of the launching of this collection will be presented at a First Friday event at the Jungclaus-Campbell headquarters on Friday, November 3 from 6-8 pm.


In anticipation of this event, I want to explore one final Jungclaus construction project: The Coca-Cola bottling plant, now known as Bottleworks, on Massachusetts Avenue. The location of the Coca-Cola bottling plant was a short stone's throw away from the Jungclaus-Campbell (then called the William P Jungclaus Company) headquarters, located at the corner Massachusetts and St. Clair. The Coca-Cola campus still stands today and has been redeveloped as the Bottleworks District, a mixed-use complex with a hotel (housed in the Coca-Cola Bottleworks plant itself) and other commercial properties which use other buildings in the district.


Prior to the construction of the Coca-Cola plant, the area around the site was primarily residential, with some industry related to the rail lines which ran through the area. However, the site itself was being used for bottling purposes from the early 1900s with the Yuncker Bottling Plant (or Works, depending on the source), owned by James Yuncker. Yuncker hailed from Loudonville, Ohio where his family owned and operated a bakery and bottling plant. In the mid-1890s he came to Indianapolis where he first worked in sales. In 1906 he started the Yuncker Bottling Works which manufactured and bottled various sodas and other sugary beverages. First located on Michigan Street, the bottling plant was moved to the corner of Massachusetts and Ashland in 1907. The operation at this location would be expanded in 1913. In 1915 Yuncker purchased the Coca-Cola Bottling Works in Indianapolis, which gave him control of the Coca-Cola production and bottling franchise in the Indianapolis area. The Coca-Cola operation was located on Cruse Street, but all machinery and equipment were later moved to the Massachusetts Ave. location. The Sanborn below shows the original bottle works on the point of Massachusetts and Ashland later re-named Carrollton.

1915 Sanborn Map, IUPUI Sanborn and Baist Collection

The Yuncker operation was successful, and as the 1920s progressed, the bottle works began to be called the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. versus the originally used Yuncker. James Yuncker was still in charge as president, but the transition to the Coca-Cola name indicated the growing importance of that product. Advertisements still referenced Yuncker while leaning heavily on Coca-Cola iconography. One ad from 1926 which was promoting Coca Cola at baseball games, features a “Jim Yuncker sez….” Statement at the top, while near the bottom, in small print, is a brief statement noting that “Jim Yuncker” is James S. Yuncker, president of the Coca-Cola Bottling Works. An image of the bottling works in 1926 is shown below, from the collections of the Indiana historical society.

Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society

In 1929 The Yuncker Company and the Coca Cola Bottling Co. merged with the Coca-Cola name becoming the successor company. That same year, the city hosted a large convention of Coca-Cola bottlers from across the country. In a January 18, 1929 full page advertisement, Yuncker welcomed his bottling colleagues from across the country to Indianapolis, stating that “[t]his popularity and confidence – justly earned by the practice of the highest standards of manufacture in producing a delicious and wholesome drink-will be further fortified by our meetings for the interchange of ideas.” The ad was signed by Yuncker, in his role as president of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Indianapolis, and associate plants throughout northern, central, and south-central Indiana.


The growing Coca Cola operation managed by Yuncker required additional manufacturing and bottling facilities, and an expansion was planned at the company’s Massachusetts Avenue site. Described by the Indianapolis News as “one of the finest in the United States,” the new building was designed by local architect Rubush & Hunter in an art deco design and was to be faced with brilliant white glazed terra cotta, while a large metal artistic rendering of a Coca Cola fountain would adorn its main entrance at the point between the Ashland and Massachusetts. Construction on the new plant began in 1930 and continued into the fall of 1931. Like many Rubush & Hunter projects, the Coca-Cola Bottling plan was constructed by the William P. Jungclaus Co. The fact the bottling plant and the Jungclaus headquarters were located right across the street from each other, and the shared German heritage, probably helped Jungclaus win the contract.

The roadway to the left in the images above is Ashland, which, as noted above, was later renamed as Carrollton. An addition to the complex was constructed on the north end of the bottling plant, facing Ashland in 1940, and in 1947 a massive expansion on the north end of that section, abutting 10th Street, was constructed, and finished in 1948. Both expansions were constructed by the William P. Jungclaus Company. All the new construction continued with the art deco theme and white terra cotta exterior, although an interior courtyard area and the eastern side of the last section of the expansion was faced with brick. No in-progress construction images were located of the 1940 expansion, although the Jungclaus archives contained the images below (use the slider arrows on the side of the image), the first showing the new expansion as seen looking south on Ashland/Carrollton down towards the front of the bottling plant. The second photo shows one of three garage building built on the on west side of Ashland/Carrollton.

Several images exist for the 1948 expansion, as shown below. The metal Coca- Cola sculpture which graced the front entrance of the bottling plant can be seen in the background of both images.

A modern view of the November 11, 1947, image, above, is provided below. The 1947 images were taken before the second level was added to this portion of the building.


The northeast corner of the new section is pictured below while under construction in the spring of 1948. To see how it looks today, click the black slider arrow on the right side of the images. The angled roof sections, visible in the images above as they were being framed, are visible in the image below, and in the present-day image.


As noted above, to the west of the main bottling buildings were a group of three one story garages, also constructed with matching terra cotta facades. The images below (again, use the slider arrows on the side) show the interior of one of the garages, while the second image is a view of the garages as they are used today (including as the Garage Foodhall) while looking south on Carrollton/Ashland.

The final layout for the property is shown in the 1955 Sanborn map below. The garages are on pink buildings on the west side of Carrollton. The three sections of the bottling plant itself are the yellowing color, and the dates of their completion are noted.


In 1964 James Yuncker died. Four years later Coca Cola operations had moved to the Speedway area, and the property was sold to the Indianapolis Public Schools in December of 1968. Dubbed the Service Center, Indianapolis Public Schools, or “SCIPS,” the facility hosted a variety of IPS related operations, including adult education services, a central kitchen for preparation of hot lunches for distribution to the elementary schools in the downtown area, garage space for buses and other vehicles, and general storage for school equipment and supplies. The site continued in this role for the next half century. As Massachusetts Avenue changed around it, the buildings of the Coca Cola bottling plant/SCIPS complex remained standing, although IPS made various changes to the buildings themselves including replacing some windows with glass blocks. In terms of this use, when I used to bike to work on a regular basis, I would often ride by the Coca-Cola bottling plant and observe the stacks of tables and other furniture stored on the second floor of the building.


To conclude, below is a then and now of the Coca Cola Bottling Company and the redeveloped Bottleworks Hotel complex, from the intersection of Ashland/Carrollton and Massachusetts.



Sources:


All Coca Cola Bottling Plant images and additional information came from the Jungclaus-Campbell Archives. Note: The images I used were personally scanned by me over the past few years. These images, as well as the entirety of the Jungclaus Campbell archives have recently been scanned by the IUPUI Library and may be accessed here.


Yuncker Bottling Works, 1926 (Bass #200082-F), Indiana Historical Society, https://images.indianahistory.org/digital/collection/dc012/id/2591/rec/6


Indianapolis Star: September 17, 1915, May 14, 1924, January 18, 1929, September 27, 1931, June 11, 1935, March 31, 1940, June 9, 1940, December 13, 1964, November 2, 1969


Indianapolis News: January 18, 1929, October 18, 1930, June 14, 1940






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