Columbus Drew was born on January 8, 1820 in Washington D.C. His early education was in journalism and printing. In 1844, he married Marietta Hume Robinson and they had their first son, Columbus, on December 3, 1847. In 1848, Drew moved his family to Jacksonville to start a newspaper, “The Florida Republican“. The newspaper plant was destroyed in 1854, and one year later, Drew left the newspaper business and started the “Columbus Drew Stationery Printing Company”.
During the Civil War, Drew served in the Confederate Treasury Dept. in Richmond, Virginia. In 1862, Horace Drew oversaw the business for his father until the family was forced to leave Jacksonville after Union forces captured the city. After the war, Drew returned to rebuild his business along with his son Horace. In 1876, Drew sold the business to his son after he was appointed Florida Comptroller and the business was renamed “H. Drew”. In 1891, Columbus Drew died and buried in Jacksonville’s Old City Cemetery.
In 1881, Horace’s brother William B. became a full partner of the firm and the named was changed to “H. Drew and Brother” and again in 1893 to “H. & W. B. Drew Company”. The Great Fire of 1901 destroyed the plant and a new two-story was constructed less than a year later. In 1909, a third floor was added and designed by famed architect Henry J. Klutho.
The “H. & W. B. Drew Company” moved into the McConihe Building in 1921 after purchasing it from former mayor Luther McConihe; it would later be demolished in 1971 for the construction of the Independent Life Building. Horace continued to operate the business as President until his death in 1926. In 1997, Wells Legal Supply Inc. acquired the company to form the Wells & Drew Companies.
The Springfield Historic District is a neighborhood of Jacksonville and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally part of a tract of land known as “Hogan’s Donation”, part of it was divided up following the end of the Civil War for residential redevelopment to become the suburbs of Hansontown and Franklintown. In 1869, half of the remaining available land was divided up and put up for sale. It was named Springfield for a “spring of good water in a field” and is credited to Calvin. L Robinson, a Jacksonville merchant.
On May 3, 1901, a fire broke out in a mattress factory, engulfing most of the city’s downtown area in less than eight hours which would later be known as the Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901. Thousands of residents survived the fire by fleeing to Springfield as the marshy area of Hogan’s Creek help to keep the flames from spreading in their direction. The fire left many people homeless, causing many of them to move to Springfield. The next two decades became Springfield greatest period of residential growth, having a population of over 8,000 by 1909.
It was around this time when Dr. Horace Drew moved to Springfield, moving into a large and unique home which was built in 1909, at a corner near Hogans Creek, what is now Springfield Park. A description by the house by the Jacksonville Architectural Heritage reads:
“Sited prominently on a corner near Hogans Creek, this exotic residence is a highly visible Springfield landmark. It also exhibits one of the most inventive uses of concrete blocks as a building material in Jacksonville. Both the smooth and ashlar-finished blocks are used, and many of the blocks were cast at odd angles, such as on the hexagonal columns, the tower, and the projecting bays. The eclectic design borrows elements from the Tudor Revival, Queen Anne, and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. Its base is elevated more than adjacent residences, adding to the vertical projection of the multi-planed roofline, gables, and three-story tower. The composition is enriched by harmonious colors found in the gables with half-timbering over stucco, the clay tile roof, and concrete walls.”
In February 2015, the house was purchased by Michael Bourre, owner of Bourre Construction Group, for just $40,000. Bourre planned to restore the home which he estimated would cost around $800,000 with the project being completed in two years. As of this writing, September 2016, no work has been done to the home.