DURKEE SPICE FACTORY
Established by Eugene R. Durkee in 1851, the Durkee Company is a manufacturer of spices, condiments and grocers’ specialties. They relocated from Hudson Square in Manhattan to Elmhurst in 1917, when they built this four-story industrial structure as their new mustard and spice factory. News of this move were met with opposition from the community, who wanted to preserve the residential use of the neighborhood. As a way to mitigate this negative reception, when announcing the purchase of the property from the Cord Meyer Company, Durkee stated that the factory would be surrounded by lawns and flower beds, and it would be an ornament to the community. Durkee was the largest factory and the largest employer in Elmhurst with over 300 employees, mostly women.
E.R. Durkee died in December of 1926, leaving everything to his daughters. The Company was sold in 1986 and was subsequently absorbed into a larger-food processing conglomerate. In 2007, the building was renovated and became the Elmhurst Educational Campus, which hosts three separate high schools: The Pan American International High School, the Civic Leadership Academy, and Voyages Preparatory High School.
Photo courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.