This history feature is dedicated to the Maxwell building(s), which used to be the locale of a nationally-known coffee creator. If you haven’t already guessed, it’s the Maxwell House Coffee Plant. Since coffee is what makes the world go round and keeps us alive most days, we’re covering the history of this upscale condo development as it once was a coffee factory. Read on for the history behind Maxwell Place, formerly known as the Maxwell House Coffee Plant in Hoboken.
(Photo credit: Hoboken Historical Museum)
^ The image shows the “Good to the Last Drop” sign and the Nungesser-Dickinson Seed Company painted lettering on the tall building that is north of the plant taken prior to the factory’s grand opening.
It all began in 1939 when the Maxwell House Coffee plant opened in the Mile Square. The plant, owned by General Foods Corporation, extended from 11th to 12th Streets along the Hudson River and Sinatra Drive in Hoboken and was open through the late ’80s, according to the New York Times.It was the largest employer in town. Imagine all the delicious smells in the air, not kidding! In fact, you can still smell them now uptown from time to time.
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Once 1990 hit, General Foods declared that the franchise located in Jacksonville, Florida won the matchup between its Hoboken and Jacksonville locations — and so the Hoboken plant had to close. The Hoboken operation lost the competition because of its costs as the main factor — having to pay higher salaries along with the then circumstances of the coffee market (a lower amount of coffee consumption and the over-the-limit supplies at a variety of Maxwell House locations). Word on the street was that there was also a ton of asbestos in the building which was another large factor in the closing.
Two years after the decision was made to close the Hoboken plant, the doors were officially shut — and sadly, it left many unemployed. After that, only a minor repair business for large workboats remained in the area as the last waterfront business in our Mile Square City at the time.
After several years of vacancy, in 2003, the Toll Brothers converted the plant’s spot into one of the most sought-after condo communities in Hoboken, which is of course now known as Maxwell Place.
The new apartment complexes consist of a combo of fancy residences, dining, and retail therapy — Tutti Nails, Local Barre, W. Kodak, Massage Envy, and La Isla (Uptown) to name a few — plus a quick walk to Amanda Banana’s at Pier 13 in the summer, please and thank you. And who can forget the views?
It’s nice to remember the way things were while embracing some of the new of course — it’s all about balance. Regardless, now when you walk uptown on Sinatra Drive, be sure to drink some local coffee to honor the Maxwell House Coffee Plant.