Industrial Mississippi: Knox Glass Company

One of the advertisers in the 1946 Mississippi edition of Manufacturer’s Record was Knox Glass Company. This rang a bell for me, and I went searching back through the trusty WPA Guide to Mississippi, which gives directions and a little information about the company. If I’m reading this right, the company’s big complex shown in the aerial image below was located on Flowood Drive across the river from downtown Jackson.

 

Knox Glass Bottle Co

Between Brandon and Jackson the highway is bordered with small but neat truck farms. Back of the truck farms but not visible from the highway is the RANKIN COUNTY NATURAL GAS FIELD, a recently exploited source of much potential wealth. At 110.1 m. is the junction with a graveled road.

Right on this road to the KNOX GLASS MANUFACTURING COMPANY, 1.9 m. (visited by permission), the only plant of its kind in the State. Here bottles of all shapes and sizes are manufactured for distribution to all parts of the United States. The plant is a modern building with recreational facilities provided for its employees.

Mississippi: A Guide to the Magnolia State, 1938, p. 308

I don’t think any of the complex survives, but there is that intriguing long metal building in the bottom of this aerial view that may be a remnant.

Another reason architecture lovers should be interested in the Knox Glass Company? Chester R. Underwood, owner of this Overstreet & Town-designed Art Moderne house, built in 1939 in Jackson’s Belhaven neighborhood, was, according to the Jackson city directories, the president of Knox Glass Company.

C.R. Underwood House (1938), Pinehurst Street, Jackson

C.R. Underwood House (1938), Pinehurst Street, Jackson

Manufacturer's Record 1946



Categories: Historic Preservation, Industrial, Jackson

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16 replies

  1. This is a very interesting story, E., and only the tip of the iceberg. Underwood worked for Knox in Pennsylvania (owned by his brother, Roy), and it was he who scouted the location in Mississippi. He was allowed to come down and set up shop and became the president of Knox in Miss. In doing so, he founded Flowood named for his wife, Florence Underwood. If you look at the street view above, just north of Mississippi Warehousing is a street called Underwood Dr. The Mississippi Warehousing facility is the remnant of the Knox factory; it was a lot more obvious until recently, when some roofing and other work went into the complex. Here is a history of the company: https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/Knox2_BRG.pdf

    And if that’s not enough for interesting, Mr. Underwood eventually built a duplicate factory right next to the Knox factory (I believe that is the long metal building, but I’m not certain). He built it with Knox funds and staffed it with Knox employees who were paid by Knox, but he retained ownership and reaped the profits from the new factory. When it was discovered, he was brought up on fraud charges, but it seems that he was never actually prosecuted, or maybe he was just not convicted. (I am telling all of this off the top of my head and I should probably stop and go back and look it all up.)

    Anyway, we have Mr. Underwood to thank for that beautiful Overstreet & Town house, but we also have him to thank for the city of Flowood. I will let you take from that what you will.

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    • Very informative. How long has the gas field been there?

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      • Sorry, I know nothing about the gas field.

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      • April, 1954. Upon review of the minutes of the board of The Flowood Corporation, several plots of land were sold for drilling and equipment, and the balance of the corporation’s land (several hundred acres) was to be leased to United Gas Pipeline Company for $ 1,500 per year. The storage reservoir is in the Selma Gas Rock formation between 2,100 and 2,700 feet in depth. That lease is still in effect.
        Interestingly, one of the directors was N. W. Overstreet. He designed the motel they built on Hwy. 80 (Heidelberg Jr./Airways Inn/current women’s prison.). Mr. Roy L. Heidelberg was also a director at this time.

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  2. Well, as you say, interestinger and interestinger! The plot thickens!

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  3. Only a few years back there were a few very large piles of broken glass to the north of the buildings that were probably being kept for recycling.

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  4. This also reminds me that I have an article somewhere about the origins of Flowood that features N.W. Overstreet prominently. I need to find that again and post it.

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  5. The long metal building was Knox Glass #2. It was just cleaned up and is currently for sale. Underwood Drive was originally known as Knox Drive, and once had many small homes (separately) for white and black workers. They were wiped out by the “Candlestick” tornado around 1966. The land was all owned by The Flowood Corporation, headed by Mr. Underwood, and marketed as an industrial park. The Flowood Corporations assets were absorbed by the steel mill, Mississippi Steel, in 1960.

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  6. The building where Mississippi Warehousing is where Knox Glass was located. The westernmost building remnants was part of the factory. The one at the bottom of the map was a glass factory too. Chattanooga Glass/Knox Glass.

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  7. Today being the 50th anniversary of the Candlestick Park tornado, I was helping an old friend to access the digitized images of her father’s slides of the destruction and I ran across this photo: http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/vault/projects/patterson/file.php?file=101786-01-photo
    which looks a lot like these buildings.

    Also, knowing that the tornado passed through Flowood, I looked at Wikipedia and found: “Many homes and businesses in the area were completely destroyed by the tornado, including a glass factory that was severely mangled.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1966_Candlestick_Park_tornado (Though the order of events is somewhat out of order if this is a Knox factory.)

    So can anyone tell us if that, indeed, was the fate of some of these buildings?

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  8. Yes, the tornado destroyed the “big cabin”, “Little cabin” and the Pavillion. My Dad was from Knox, PA and was transferred to MS in 1956. Was GM when tornado came through. Much of the plant was damaged. Later KG was sold to Glass Containers.

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