REBRAND FLORENCE PARTNERSHIP
Shoals History is excited to partner with the Rebrand Florence Instagram project. Each company from Florence’s past that is rebranded through the Rebrand Florence project will have an associated post here on the Shoals History website. The first edition is the Florence Milling Company. Read more about what the Rebrand Florence project is doing. Some research and images are graciously provided through a partnership with the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library‘s Local History department.
The Florence Bakery
While one enterprise on East Tennessee Street named the Florence Bakery existed from the late 1890s until it burned down in 1912 (owned by Mr. J.E. Bowers), it isn’t the same bakery we’re writing about in this post.
Success story from Ireland
The Florence Bakery as most recently established came to Florence in 1926 via an Irishman named Michael Curran. Coming to America with his parents when he was 7 years old, and built a strong reputation of being a fair businessman through grit, determination and hard work. His early youth was spent laboring away in the tough mining and lumber camps of the west and eventually built up enough capital to found the largest bakery in Spokane, Washington.
Following that, Mr. Curran moved to Florence, Alabama and bought the Florence Bakery 1926 (which he ran until his retirement in 1941). In September of 1926, Mr. Curran purchased Frohman Baking Company and opened the Florence Bakery at 212 N Court Street.
Tragedy strikes Florence Bakery
Five years after the Florence Bakery opened it’s doors, tragedy hit. In the early morning hours of August 19th, 1931 when an oven overheated and set fire inside of the building. Damage to the building and Mr. Curran’s equipment totaled about $3,000 (nearly $45,000 in today’s dollars). Undeterred, Michael Curran began repairs almost immediately and the Florence Bakery was reopened twelve days later.
Expansion and technology
Sales of the Sally Ann bread product line were never better in the city of Florence and profit came easy. Five short years after the fire halted production for nearly two weeks, Mr. Curran was ready for expansion. In 1934, he built a brand new, 60-foot long and 20-foot wide building on the north side of his existing operation. This new building served as a wrapping and cooling room for his baked goods. The new building addition along with the installation of state-of-the-art machinery over the next couple of years made the Florence Bakery one of the most modern bakeries in the South. The two most notable modern updates that took the Florence Bakery to this point were the addition of air conditioning (the first southern bakery to do so) and the installation of an electrically operated roasting oven. This new oven boasted a capacity of 240 loaves of bread every 30 minutes and was almost entirely automatic. The heat was controlled by thermostats and the oven was fired by an automatic stoker.