A couple of weeks ago, in preparation for the Seale-Lily Drive In post, I was doing some sleuthing around the internet for anything having to do with Seale-Lily Ice Cream, and I came upon this large advertisement in a March 1937 Clarion-Ledger for the then-new Seale-Lily on West Capitol Street. The photo of the Seale-Lily interior could qualify this post for the Going Inside series, but instead I was struck by the advertiser, Westbrook Manufacturing Company, a name I have seen here and there in many articles about new buildings but never really paid much attention to.
This modern and inviting new ice cream store is the result of an effort to give you the finest of it’s [sic] kind in the south. WESTBROOK QUALITY FIXTURES enhance it’s [sic!] beauty and efficiency throughout . . . fixtures that were made right here in Jackson in our plant, where Jackson workers, week after week, receive many thousands of dollars annually . . . and spend them with Jackson merchants–It’s a good reason why Mississippi merchants when buying fixtures should buy fixtures made by . . .
Westbrook Manufacturing Company
Westbrook wasn’t exagerating about its role as a local manufacturer. It was founded in 1906 and had its plant on South Jefferson Street at South Street.
Unfortunately, I’ve searched high and low in the newspapers for a photograph of the Westbrook plant, but have come up empty. I did find that the plant burned to the ground in a suspected arson fire in April 1911, and it was immediately rebuilt. I was surprised when looking at the Sanborn map above (the original is color-coded to show building materials) that after such a destructive fire, the plant was rebuilt out of wood rather than something less prone to fire, like brick.
This March 1988 article in the Clarion-Ledger, a sad article about the impending closure of this longtime Jackson industry, gives some good information about the business and how it switched in the 1920s from a millwork operation to a fixtures manufacturer. The list of Westbrook’s best-known customers is also sad–more longtime Jackson institutions that have now vanished, either from being bought out like the late, lamented Deposit Guaranty, or moved out, like Primos. I wonder if even the Rankin County Correctional Facility still has its Westbrook fixtures?
As for the W. Capitol Seale-Lily Ice Cream Parlor at 832 W. Capitol, the building is still standing, miraculously, across from Poindexter Park. But it’s been vacant for as long as I can remember, and I wonder what ever became of the Westbrook fixtures that were so snazzy back in 1937?