Standing along Pine Street in St. Louis, watching a pop-up bike lane in action, I struck up a conversation with a 64-year-old MetroBus...
Today, 10 Hitt St. is home to Ragtag Cinema, Uprise Bakery, and Hitt Records. The colonial revival building was built in 1935 for the Columbia Coca-Cola Bottling Company. The building has a residential look, probably because most buildings on Hitt Street were residential at the time.
The facility was built with a concrete foundation, brick walls, and an asphalt roof, according to the National Register of Historic Places. The front part of the building is 1 ½ stories tall, with a side-facing gable roof and three gabled front dormers.
Coca-Cola was created in 1886. By 1910, there were more than 1,000 Coca-Cola bottling plants in the U.S., and more than 95 percent were locally owned and operated. There were other soft drink bottling facilities in downtown Columbia as early as 1877 and through the early 1900s. One of the earliest bottling operations was located at Ninth and Cherry streets.
The company was originally located at 207-209 S. Eighth St. and was owned by C.R. McCallister. Ed Roberson purchased the company in 1932 after moving to Columbia from Newport, Arkansas. Roberson’s father had owned Coca-Cola franchises in both Arkansas and Missouri.
Roberson built the 10 Hitt St. plant in 1935, choosing the location for its proximity to the business district and easy access for delivery trucks. According to Missouri Department of Natural Resources paperwork, it is the only surviving building in the downtown area that was associated with the local Coca-Cola franchise.
Roberson headed The Coca-Cola Bottling Company, with his wife, Florence, as secretary treasurer and a Mrs. John R. Cobb as vice president, according to a 1940 company directory.
The plant operated at that address for 30 years. In 1966, the facility relocated to a larger space, and E.S. Brown Printing Company, which later became Kelly Press, purchased the building and operated a printing press there until 2005.
In 2008, the building became home to Ragtag Cinema, Uprise Bakery, and 9th Street Video. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. In 2013, Hitt Records began operating out of the building as well. In April, 9th Street Video closed and Hitt Records expanded from its location in the attic to part of the building’s first floor. The building’s occupants collectively call the building “Hittsville.”