The Architecture of Refreshment
© 2018 Blaine Martin
Durham, North Carolina standard logo marquee, as used on most of the standardized buildings.
In 1928, Coca-Cola bottled drink sales surpassed Coca-Cola fountain sales for the first time, and by 1931 there were approximately 1,350 Coca-Cola Bottling Plants plants scattered around the United States. Bottled Coca-Cola was now king and there was no turning back.
As demand for bottled soft drinks grew, the need for modern bottling machines to increase volume became a necessity. Along with this volume came the need for additional case and delivery vehicle storage space.
At the behest of The Coca-Cola Company's leader, Robert Woodruff, refinement and standardization of all elements of The Coca-Cola Company's business became a priority.
The growing Coca-Cola bottling family did not escape this movement for standardization. In 1929 and 1932 the Standardization Committee of Coca-Cola Bottlers adopted standards and guidelines for everything from uniforms, and letterhead to vehicle graphics and bottling plant architecture.
Many bottlers applied the architectural standards to their new facilities because of the standard design's beauty, efficiency and practicality. These beautiful buildings still proudly carry the Coca-Cola identification marquee even though their use as bottling plants and distribution centers ended many years ago.
But, despite the suggestions from The Coca-Cola Company for standardization in architectural design, expressions of individualism in the designs for new bottling plants was commonplace.
The franchise owners knew they had the rights to bottle Coca-Cola in perpetuity, and since they were investing their own capital in the plant's construction, the owners spent their money as they felt appropriate.
Many had become prominent citizens within their communities and saw a perfect opportunity to make their unique architectural mark on the city in which they lived.
The Art Deco style of architecture provided just the right aesthetic to make this powerful statement.
Today these Art Deco buildings are treasured for their boldness and unique character. Many still stand as enduring landmarks in their communities. A tribute to their lasting beauty and adaptability.
"Standard Plant No. 3" floor plans from the "Coca-Cola Bottlers' Standards" of 1932.
"Standard Plant No. 2" from Elberton, Georgia about 1932
A small version of Standard Plant No. 2 from St. Paul, Virginia in the 1930's
Rendering of "Standard Plant No. 3" from the "Coca-Cola Bottlers' Standards" of 1929.
Rendering of "Standard Plant No. 4" from the "Coca-Cola Bottlers' Standards" of 1929.
"Standard Plant No. 4" from Anniston, Alabama in the 1930's
The importance of the bottling room
from the 1958 Architects Guide for the Design of Coca-Cola Bottling Plants
In the bottling room are located the major bottling units, usually consisting of the washer, the filler, the crowner, and the mixer, together with the necessary conveyor equipment. This "assembly line" is the most spectacular part of the plant operation, and it has become very common practice to display it to the public as much as possible.
The display of the bottling operation to people outside the building requires that the bottling room be facing the most heavily trafficked street and be equipped with large display windows.
Elevations should be carefully set to give the spectator a good view of the moving bottles, but to conceal him from the floor of the bottling room. (The floor is necessarily less attractive at times that the rest of the room.)
An appearance of extreme cleanliness and brightness should be striven for in display bottling rooms. Some factors which will help produce this effect are:
(1) Large window areas without heavy pilasters or columns to break continuity.
(2) Ample use of stainless steel and chromium-plate in bottling machinery.
(3) High intensity lighting
(4) High ceilings.
(5) The use of light colors for interior finish.
(6) A minimum number of columns.
The Art Deco style of architecture
The Art Deco style of architecture originated in France just before World War I and had an important impact on architecture and design in the United States during the roaring 1920s and depression era 1930s.
The clean lines of the Art Deco style were the perfect response to the flowery decoration of the Art Nouveau movement and historical revisionism of the previous Revivalist periods.
It combined modern aesthetics with fine craftsmanship and expensive materials, and became a symbol of luxury and modernity.
Streamline Moderne was a variation of Art Deco which appeared during the mid-1930s. The style was more sober and less decorative than earlier Art Deco buildings.
Buildings in this style often resembled land bound ships, with rounded corners, long horizontal lines, iron railings, and other nautical characteristics.
The Art Deco period came to an end with the onset of World War II. After World War II, The International style of architecture, which began in pre-war Germany, became the dominant new building style.
Thomasville, North Carolina
Tell City, Indiana
Spartanburg, North Carolina
A 1939 Art Deco gem in Paducah, Kentucky
Entrance side of the Paducah Cocac-Cola Bottling Company at 3121 Broadway. Image shows neon sign that was in place through the 1990's.
In 1903, Luther Carson purchased a franchise to bottle Coca-Cola within a 65-mile radius of Paducah, Kentucky. He opened his first plant on March 27, 1903 with his father and brother as partners.The first case of Coca-Cola in Paducah was bottled at a rented building at 726 South Third March 27, 1903. The franchise outgrew its first two facilities before moving to its third plant at the corner of 6th and Jackson Streets in downtown Paducah.
A widespread flood in 1937 left that plant under 10 feet of water. This led the Carsons to build their fourth and final headquarters near the high water mark of that historic flood — nearly 40 blocks inland from the river.The new Paducah Coca-Cola Bottling Company building quickly became a local landmark, being one of only three examples of Art Deco commercial architecture in the city.
Used for Coca-Cola bottling for nearly half a century, the bottling operations ceased in 1986 when the franchise rights were sold back to the Coca-Cola Company. From 1986 until 2005 it was used as a distribution center.
Today the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been restored to its former Art Deco glory, and now houses several businesses.
The 3rd bottling plant is shown about 1907 in its downtown Paducah location near the Ohio River on the corner of 6th and Jackson Streets. The building and its assets were abandoned in 1937 because of widespread flood waters that covered 95% of the city.
c.1939 image of plant during construction.
1940's image of the bottling line.
Stainless steel entrance doors with customized Coca-Cola door pulls.
1930's photo of the sweeping curvilinear Art Deco staircase in the rotunda.
Bottle cap design in the terrazzo floor.
Upward view to the rotunda's dome.
Newport News, Virginia
Charlotte, North Carolina
A 1931 masterpiece in Indianapolis, Indiana
One of many gold logos around the building. Notice the ziggurat pattern in the lower tiles.
View from 10th Street showing the corner of one garage building with the Carrolton Avenue garage building in the background.
View from Massachusetts Avenue showing the beautiful bas-relief detailing around windows.
James Yuncker and the Yuncker brothers bought the Coca-Cola franchise for the Indianapolis area and created the Coca-Cola Bottling Works of Indianapolis in 1915. The Yunckers had been bottling a line of flavors, including ginger ale, orange, grape, cream soda and root beer in Indianapolis as early as 1906.
As the bottling business grew Yuncker built the white terra cotta Art Deco bottling plant at 850 Massachusetts Avenue. The building opened to the public in September 1931, with a cost of $500,000.
The Great Depression had begun in October of 1929 and the design was especially luxurious given the tough economic times.
Rubush and Hunter – one of the city's most prominent architectural firms in the early 1900s – designed the massive Coca-Cola complex which is made up of the main bottling plant and a garage.
The buildings within the complex feature facades of gleaming white, glazed terra cotta manufactured by the Indianapolis Terra Cotta Company. The terra cotta design features intricate details such as flowers, fountains and sunburst patterns. Copper detailed canopies, and ornate grates adorn the exterior of the structures.
Ornate bronze doors open into the Art Deco lobby, where terrazzo floors, travertine walls and a circular marble staircase with stainless steel and brass railing leads to the upper floor executive offices.The tasting room is adorned with sea green, ochre, and creme matte glazed tiles trimmed with maroon ziggurat-pattern tile.
During the 1940's, the Massachusetts Avenue plant grew with additions and by 1950 the complex had grown to 285,000-square-feet. At the time it was the world's largest bottling plant with 260 workers producing 2.25 million bottles of Coca-Cola a week, and delivering them with a fleet of 110 delivery trucks.
After James Yuncker died in 1964, Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman bought the Coca-Cola franchise and moved bottling the operations to Speedway. He subsequently sold the property to the Indianapolis Public Schools in 1968 to use as a bus facility.
Located in the thriving downtown Massachusetts Avenue Historic District, the property will soon be restored and repurposed as mixed use retail, residential, and office space.
The garage area about 1935, soon after the plant opened.
Massachusetts Avenue building entrance and facade of the bottling building.
Bas-relief fountain design above entrance
Detail of entrance showing copper canopy.
Detail of grill above entrance.
Detail of geometric pattern beside entrance.
Balcony and ceiling detail of the lobby area
Floor area of upper balcony.
Tasting room door.
Key ring badge and employee pin from the Indianapolis Coca-Cola bottling plant c.1940
Elmira, New York
East Hartford, Connecticut
An elegant blend of art and commerce in Los Angeles, California
The ocean liner design features two rows of porthole styled windows.
Long flowing lines give the appearance of an ocean going vessel.
The Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Los Angeles began in 1902 with a two-man bottling operation at the corner of Third and Los Angeles Streets. Several moves later the company opened operations on South Central Avenue in 1915.
Over the years, as demand for bottled Coca-Cola grew, the South Central bottling plant gradually developed into a complex of four buildings. The four included warehouses, production lines and offices.
In 1936, Stanley Barbee, president of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Southern California hired architect Robert V. Derrah to consolidate the four buildings into one comprehensive structure.
Barbee and Derrah were both yachtsman and felt that an ocean liner theme would promote the attributes of modernity, cleanliness and progress.
Over the next two years they constructed an iconic building with long flowing horizontal lines that evoked the appearance of a ship with complete with portholes, catwalk and a bridge platform on the roof.
Today, the Los Angles bottling plant is recognized as a classic example of the Streamline Moderne, a 1930's Art Deco style that invoked speed, motion and mobility.
The ocean liner design features two rows of portholes, a catwalk with metal railings and simulated rivets and a ship's door. The top of the building is in the shape of a ship's bridge. A large mast-like flagpole mast adorns the top of the bridge.
The plant's interior is also nautical themed. The mezzanine area features mahogany decks with handrails, ladders and brass fittings. Ship doors enclose the offices.
Ventilators on the upper floors are shaped like ocean liner air scoops. These ventilators were once used as chutes to drop bottle caps to the crowning machines on the floor beneath.
The plant was designated a City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Landmark in 1975.
Coke sign atop the bridge structure on the roof.
Another view of the iconic bridge structure.
Large bottle at entrance
Door on Central Avenue facing side.
Frontage facing 1334 South Central Avenue c.1940
Interior photo showing stylized roof girders.
Below: This small cardboard model of the building was given out when the building was declared a Historic Cultural Landmark.
Salisbury, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Kansas City, Missouri
Du Quoin, Illinois