Standing at 19-stories and 260 feet tall, the 262,000-square-foot building was completed in 1955 as the headquarters for the Independent Life and Accidental Insurance Building.
The early-modernist, concrete-reinforced structure was designed by KBJ Architects, who also designed many other high-rise in Jacksonville such as the BB&T Bank Building and the Everbank Center. Granite, marble, and limestone were used extensively for the building’s interior,and also featured street level retail along Julia Street and a sky lounge on the top floor.
In 1975, Independent Life relocated their headquarters to newly completed Independent Square. Independent Square is known today as the Wells Fargo Center, also designed by KBJ Architects, and is Jacksonville’s second tallest building.
The Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) acquired the building in 1976 and relocated their operations there. During the late 1980s, JEA purchased the Universal Marion Building, and by 1990, they had relocated most of their offices from the old Independent Life building. JEA officially abandoned the building in March 1999.
Throughout the years, there has been a bit of interest in purchasing it, but the work needed to renovate such a large structure has been a factor as to why its still empty. The most recent proposal was from a developer whose plan includes constructing a 13-story addition on the east building of the tower, as well a parking garage.