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Friday, September 9, 2016

Cannery Row: Aeneas Sardine Products Company

World War II accelerated the pace of canning operations along Cannery Row in Monterey, California, leading to a new expansion of canneries to the south of the traditional heart of the canning district. Angelo Lucido, who owned the expansive San Carlos Canning Company at the geographic bottom of Cannery Row, decided in 1941 to purchase the vacant properties of Tevis Murray to the north of his enterprise. Lucido then turned around and resold the land to interested parties, the foremost among them being his brother, Frank Lucido, and a family friend, Orazio Enea.

The Aeneas Cannery under construction, 1945. The warehouse and conveyor are not yet built. [Pat Hathaway]
The conveyor crossing over Wave Street, c. 1957.
[Robert Lewis/The History Co]
The Eneas Canning Company was founded on August 25, 1945, under the leadership of these two men. It was soon renamed Aeneas Sardine Products Company, adopting an Anglicization of the latter's surname. Enea was a Sicilian man who came to California at the beginning of the century as a salmon fisherman along the Sacramento River. He relocated to Monterey in 1906 where he worked at Booth's cannery canning sardines before transferring to Pietro Ferrante's San Carlo Canning Company. He became a free agent in the 1920s, working at various ventures and consulting with canneries until he became involved with the Lucido brothers. Construction on the new cannery was a $47,000 venture that included the erection of a cannery, reduction plant, and a 8,000-square-foot warehouse. Robert R. Jones, notorious for designing 27 canneries in Monterey was hired as the architect, with Albert B. Coats, equally notorious for building half of Cannery Row, acting as contractor. Construction was finished by the end of the year, with the warehouse being the last structure to be erected.

1962 Sanborn Map showing Aeneas Cannery and its spur.
[Architectural Resources Group, et al.]
The portion of the structure most relevant to the railroad is that of the warehouse at 299 Wave Street (now Cannery Row). Cushioned between the road and the railroad right-of-way, the warehouse was connected to the main reduction plant and cannery by an enclosed conveyor that ran across the road between the two structures and still remains in place today. Aeneas had access to a short, 100-foot-long private spur that exited southbound onto the Monterey Branch track of the Southern Pacific Railroad. This spur is recorded as still present on a 1962 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, although the cannery itself appears vacant at this time.

Aeneas Cannery (indicated with arrow), mid-1950s soon after closure. Note railroad tracks at top-left. [Pat Hathaway]
The Aeneas Company ended up being one of the last canneries built on Cannery Row and one of the least successful, owing primarily to the fact that the sardine industry utterly crashed in 1946 and continued to hemorrhage through 1947 and 1948. Aeneas scraped by for six years but finally announced the auction of its new canning complex on February 22, 1952. It was one of the first operations to shut its doors. The property was sold to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in March 1953 for $100,000. In 1974, the buildings underwent a remodelling under the direction of architect Paul E. Davis. His work on allowed both structures to be converted to commercial and business uses. Both structures are now on the National Register as places of historical interest.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
299-300 Cannery Row, Monterey CA
36.611˚N, 121.898˚W

The former Aeneas Sardine warehouse at 299 Cannery Row is now the home of Adventures by the Sea commercial suites. Businesses in the structure include Papa Chevo's Taco Shop and Breezer's bikes, while the upstairs is used as the corporate office for Evans & Johnson's promotions service. The main cannery structure at 300 Cannery Row was occupied until January 2014 by Light & Motion, a company that creates advanced lighting technologies for athletes, but now is awaiting new tenants.

Citations & Credits:
  • "Aeneas Sardine Packing Company Cannery". National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.
  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "299 Cannery Row" and "300 Cannery Row". Primary Record. State of California – The Resources Agency. Department of Parks and Recreation. In Final Cannery Row Cultural Resources Survey Report Document, Monterey, CA, 2001.

1 comment:

  1. As an architect, that was my office from 1974 to 2001 first with Paul Davis which then became Davis Jacoubowsky Hawkins Architects, then Jacoubowsky Hawkins Walker Architects after 1984. We owned it part of that time along with Roger Post, and then sold it to Frank Knight owner of Adventures by the Sea, who started there as our tenant. We originally remodeled it for Dorthy Long who owned it then and then moved in as a tenant of hers, and later bought it. I loved eating my lunch on the breakwater while working there for 28 years. A great place.

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