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Friday, October 28, 2016

Cannery Row: Enterprise Packing Company

"Cannery Row" watercolor, by Art Riley, c. 1950s. [CalArt]
The South Cannery Row district was composed primarily of newer canneries that were opened due to the demand caused by World War II. One of the first of these late canneries was the Enterprise Packing Company, founded by Sebastian J. "Buster" Sollecito in 1945. Very little is known of this canning operation except that it did not remain in business for long. Built near the corner of Ocean View Avenue and Reeside Avenue, the facility consisted of a cannery on the bay-side connected by a second-floor conveyor to a warehouse along the Southern Pacific Railroad's Monterey Branch tracks. The warehouse for this cannery was rather large and modern compared to many of its neighbors, being three stories in height with a large open wood facade in the center of the structure. Despite its short use, the cannery was able to arrange for a short, south-bound-exiting railroad spur behind its warehouse. Indeed, the back of the structure was built slightly at an angle to facilitate this spur, meaning the tracking was planned before construction began on the warehouse. It does not appear that there was a freight platform behind the warehouse, but if there was, all evidence of it has been erased. A third-story cargo-loading door, however, can still be seen from the former right-of-way.

Sardine can packaging label from Enterprise Packers, c. 1946.
Fire fighters working to extinguish the Enterprise Cannery fire, June 17, 1967. [Monterey Fire Department]
Enterprise Cannery burning down on the night of
June 17, 1967. [Monterey Fire Department]
Within two years of construction, Enterprise was flanked by two newer canneries, the Ronada Fisheries and Magnolia Packing Company to the north, and the California Fisheries Company to the south. This unfortunate arrangement lead to the cannery's eventual ruin. Soon after World War II ended, the sardine industry in Monterey dried up and Sollecito cut his losses, living a long retirement until his death in 2006. His company's buildings were rezoned for commercial uses. The warehouse became a three-story office building with retail space on the first floor. Over the years, it was remodeled and upgraded, but it still remains on the site today. The fate of the cannery building itself was that of most of the vacant buildings on the row: on June 17, 1967, a mysterious fire consumed the building, leveling it to the ground. Three firefighters were injured when the conveyor collapsed in the inferno.

Street Address, Geo-Coordinates & Current Status:
225-242 Cannery Row
36.611˚N, 121.897˚ W

The warehouse for the Enterprise Cannery remains at the original site today, although it now has a stucco facade atop its original concrete exterior. The wood-paneled offices, however, remain visible and accessible from the street. The only retail business in the building is BreakWater Scuba with some offices used on the upper floors. Three sides of the building are accessible, with the rear a stop along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail and a marine mural painted on the eastern facade. The site of the cannery is now occupied by the Monterey Bay Inn, which was erected on the vacant site in the early 1990s. None of the original cannery structure survives.

Citations & Credits:
  • Architectural Resources Group and Architects, Planners & Conservators, Inc. "San Carlos Park". 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.
  • Ventimiglia, Mike. Images of America: Monterey Fire Department. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

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