|City/Town: • Rockledge|
|Location Class: • Industrial|
|Built: • 1930 | Abandoned: • 2002|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places (April 8, 1993)|
|Status: • Demolished|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
Marion S. Whaley was a prominent local fruit farmer with many groves located around Rockledge, where he developed the unique Red Tangelo. In 1930, he had a packing house built between U.S. Highway 1 and the Florida Eastcoast Railway in order to transport his goods, which carried the M.S. Whaley label, by either train or truck and they can also be sold to passing tourists.
During World War II, the federal government encouraged greater production and requisitioned all canned and processed fruits for military and lend-lease purposes. The military’s needs prompted the development of a frozen concentrate process which gave a major boost to the citrus industry. During this time, the Whaley packing house was expanded several times and new machinery was installed to meet the federal government’s demand for fruit. After the war, the name of the packing house was changed to “Victory Groves”, to reflect how it played a role in the war effort.
Whaley owned the packing house until 1960 when it was sold to the Sullivan Brothers who retained the “Victory Groves” name. Due to it being the oldest continually operating citrus packing plant in the Indian River region, its vernacular packing house architecture, and its associations with the growth of the citrus industry here in Florida, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on April 8, 1993.
It operated under the Sullivan Brothers name until 1998 when it was sold for $749,000. It continued operating as Victory Groves as well as Old Groves Liquors until around 2002 when the property was seized and sold at auction for a mere $25,000. Since then, the buildings haven’t been used for anything significant other than for storage. Despite being on the National Register, the complex was demolished on July 16, 2020, to make way for new development.