All was pretty quiet in St. James City after the St. James-on-the-Gulf Company went out of business and the San Carlos Hotel burned down during the Koreshans remodeling of it. And as if things were not bad enough in the area, nature decided to pile on with a severe hurricane October 20,1910. The massive storm took out many of local buildings and part of the wharf at the end of Palm Avenue.
In 1911 word came to the residents of St. James City that a company had purchased the large parcel of land previously owned by the St. James-on-the-Gulf Company and was going to plant sisal hemp and build a rope manufacturing facility at the southern part of Pine Island.
Work crews soon arrived and began clearing the land to plant the sisal hemp. Other workers started construction of a warehouse, an ice making facility, a new wharf and the rope manufacturing factory. That building was two stories high and was located where today Palm Avenue, Coconut Street and Second Avenue form a triangle.
In photos of the waterfront page you can see the stack and water tower of the factory in the background. You can also see the narrow gauge train tracks between the buildings that ran out on the wharf to assist in loading and offloading materials from the ships. The photos on the factory page show the inside and outside of the factory shows how large the factory was. Other photos show bundles of finished rope and the equipment that made the rope from the sisal hemp. Some photos show the area around the factory with the sisal hemp plants visible.
Sadly, in 1913 just as production was going so well for the factory, the Sisal Hemp and Development Company closed their doors and filed for bankruptcy. No records exist to explain why they closed. Perhaps they determined that sisal hemp could be grown cheaper elsewhere in the world and wanted to minimize their losses.
New San Carlos Hotel
Sisal Hemp and Development Factory Pictures
St. James City Waterfront Picture-Sisal Hemp and Development Era
Post Sisal Hemp Hemp and Development Company
So What is Sisal Hemp
Sisal Hemp Company Sells Property to Lee County for School Building