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 Table of Contents

Group Title: The unique farm project of James C. Penney.
Title: The Unique farm project of James C. Penney
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00055204/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Unique farm project of James C. Penney
Physical Description: 46 p. : port. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: J.C. Penney-Gwinn Corporation Farms
Publisher: J.C. Penney-Gwinn Corporation Farms
Place of Publication: Green Cove Springs Fla
Publication Date: 1927
Subject: Agricultural colonies -- Florida -- Penney Farms   ( lcsh )
History -- Penney Farms (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
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Bibliographic ID: UF00055204
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002656496
oclc - 01840889
notis - ANC3580

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Full Text

The Unique Farm Project





The J. C. Penney-Gwinn Corporation Farms
Green Cove Springs, Florida

Additional copies may be secured by writing
D. Walter Morton, Greae Cove Springs, Florida


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How One Man Is Solving the Farm Problem for Hundreds 7
What the Farm Project Is All About................. 11
The Penney Farms ............... ................ 19
Where Money Alone Will Not Buy a Farm........... 21
Unique Farm Development of 120,000 Acres in Florida. 27
The Penney Institute and Community................ 35
The House of Worship........................... 37
Apartments .................................... 38
Clay County Shows Rapid Advancement .............. 40

N twenty-five years James C. Penney has
risen from a clerk in a little country store
living with his family in an attic, to the
creation of over 800 department stores
in what is known as the Penney Chain,
extending through 46 States of the Union,
and now doing a business of over $115,000,000 a
year. He has not done this at the expense of
other people, for every employee has been given
the opportunity to become a partner in these chain
stores, and now the wealth which he has accumu-
lated is being devoted to the development of a
farming proposition in Florida so unique that it
must necessarily claim the attention of the whole
It furnishes an example which could be followed
to advantage by other millionaires interested in
benefiting humanity; and having developed over
800 chain stores and now developing 120,000 acres
of farm land in Florida, Mr. Penney is building as
a memorial to his parents a group of 21 buildings
containing 104 modem apartments, at an approxi-
mate cost of $1,000,000, to be occupied rent free
by retired ministers and their families, with a plot
of land to grow fresh vegetables for their tables and
for flowers to decorate their homes. The story as
told in the following article is of thrilling interest.
Editor Manufacturers Record.

How One Man Is Solving the Farm
Problem for Hundreds
N 1902 James C. Penney and his family lived in an attic
above a store in a little town in Wyoming. He was given
an interest in the store by its owners, who allowed him to pay
for it out of the profits he made for them. As his employers
had helped him, the belief was impressed upon Mr. Penney
that other men would show their appreciation in the same
manner he had shown it if he helped such men to help them-
selves. Thus was born the business romance resulting in a
chain of stores that this year will probably achieve cash sales
of $150,000,000.
Today there are approximately 800 department stories in the
Penney chain, extending through 46 States of the Union, from
the Great Lakes to the Gulf and from the Atlantic to the
Pacific oceans.
Two years ago a new romance was born in the mind of the
chain department-store founder. This romance has to do with
farming. He believed that the idea back of the chain stores
would work equally well with agriculture. In his subconscious
mind was his first love. He was raised on a Missouri farm
with 11 sisters and brothers. His father, later expelled from
his church because he believed ministers should be paid, had
brought up the large family by tilling the soil. Having achieved
signal success with his department stores, Mr. Penney pur-
chased 120,000 acres of land in Clay county, Florida, and set
about to apply the principles that had made the stores success-
ful to the development of the tract into 6000 small farms.
This was in December, 1924. Weeds grew over the huge
acreage as high as a horse's back and the rolling terrain was
From Maemnctumer Record, Btinimore, February 10. 1927.


dotted here and there with dilapidated buildings in a sad state
of repair. The land had originally belonged to a company to
which the war had brought reverses. To divide this tract into
20-acre parcels and sell them to prospective farmers would be
Sa prosaic thing, and one which would not warrant much atten-
tion. lut tnis was tar irom the mind of James C. Penney.
In his years of travel, conducting his business in many parts
of the United States, he had come into intimate touch with the
many and varied agricultural conditions of the country. Thus
he saw the handwriting on the wall that today has brought
about acute agricultural problems. To remedy these conditions
and point the way to success in farming he established the J.
C. Penney-Gwinn Corporation, with headquarters at Green
Cove Springs, a short distance east of the agricultural land.
He made D. Walter Morton, former dean of the School of
Commerce and Accounting of the University of Southern Cali-
fornia, his personal representative.
While 20,000 acres of land were being put under the plow,
he gathered about him men of exceptional ability and placed
them in positions of responsibility in the various phases of the
development There were no salesmen employed, no advertising
done. There was nothing to sell, in the ordinary sense of the
word. Farms were to be built and farmers trained in the pro-
fession of agriculture. Agriculture itself was to be put on a
different basis.
The first work was to rehabilitate the old farm buildings on
the property; then to build good roads to make marketing of
farm crops easy. The next step was carefully to select the
future owners of the farms. This was done through the. 745
department stores. Families known and recommended by the
managers of these stores were put on the preferred list. These
were later interviewed by F. O. Clark, former head of the Voca-
tional Department of Berea College, Berea, Ky., who is in
charge of the farm management of Penney Farms.
The idea of making each department-store manager a one-

. . -
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third owner in the store of which he had charge was applied
to the farmers, except that the plan went a step farther. Each
farmer was to be given the opportunity, after he had lived on
the farm one year, of purchasing and owning it in full, pro-
vided he was satisfied to do so, and provided he had conformed
to the high standards of character and industry set up by the
Penney Farm management. No down payment is made, but
the farms are paid for out of the profits made from the soil.
Thus it may be seen that large numbers of persons would be
anxious to take advantage of the situation. Though the list
of applications is extremely large, only 81 families have been
permitted to occupy farms this last year. This is due to the
fact that a tremendous amount of preliminary work is
To insure the success of the individual farmer the J. C.
Penney-Gwinn Institute of Applied Agriculture has been
established at Penney Farms, eight miles west of Green Cove
Springs. This is in charge of President Albert A. Johnson,
former head of the Farmingdale School of Agriculture of
New York. Both the students at the school and the farmers
on the land are given theoretical and practical training in
Florida soil and crop conditions. The students are given
sufficient employment to enable them to pay their way, and
after graduation they can take up farms of their own.

During the past two years a model dairy has been established,
with 2500 head of range cattle and 75 blooded Guernsey cows.
A great poultry farm has been brought into existence, its
product taking first prize at the recent Florida State Fair.
The Penney Farms Railroad has been rebuilt, connecting with
one of the large trunk-line roads. A large cannery has been
purchased. The new highway between Penney Farms and
Green Cove Springs has been built in connection with the
100 miles of new roads under construction in Clay county.
The Institute of Applied Agriculture has been established and
farmers have been brought from 24 States in the Union and
established on completed farms. Farming equipment, tractors,


mules, harrows, plows have been purchased to supply the needs
of the community and relieve the individual of overhead
But further reaching than all this is the chemical aid bac-
teriological soil analysis now being made which will put the
entire tract under the closest survey. Armies of bacteria will
be set to work to break down silica where found and drive out
the microscopic enemies to plant life. Every process known
to science will be utilized to build the soil up to its highest state
of productivity. This intensive treatment of soils has been
successfully practiced for the past 15 years by a few scientic
farmers in America, and is well out of the experimental stage.
Thus a new era of agricultural development is being opened
up in Clay county, Florida, in the rich artesian belt of the
St. Johns River Valley, where for half a century tourists have
been attracted by the beauty of its terrain, and where within
75 miles of Penney Farms lives one-fourth of the entire popu-
lation of the State.
At Penney Farms a memorial group of 21 buildings, con-
taining 104 modern apartments, artistically furnished, and a
chapel are being completed at a total cost of approximately
$1,000,000. These are to be occupied, rent free, by retired
ministers and their families, with a plot of land to grow fresh
vegetables for tables and flowers to decorate their homes. This
group is a memorial to the parents of J. C Penney. Dr.
Daniel A. Poling, president of the Christian Endeavor Society
of America, is in charge of the group as president of the J. C.
Penney Foundation. This memorial group has no connection
with farm project.
Though the farm development has been -called paternalism,
and even socialism, the department-store founder declares it
contains the soundest of purely American business principles.
Helping others to help themselves is good business, he firmly
believes, and points to the great chain of stores to prove it.



What the Farm Project Is All About

P ENNEY FARMS, a Florida project, is interesting very
many people in this State and throughout the United
States. Even in Europe they want to know what this farm
project is all about. As soon as they find out they want to
know more about the enterprise to which Mr. J. C. Penney
has given his name and to which he is devoting so much of his
time and more of his money.
Last month this writer made two visits to Penney Farms,
the first one in order to get first-hand information concerning
this great agricultural enterprise, and the second one as a guest
at the second annual banquet to commemorate the purchase of
this great tract of land-120,000 acres-in Clay county,
Florida, an hour's ride from Jacksonville. The first visit
turned out to be a surprise; also, it gave confirmation to re-
ports that so very much of a practical and substantial character
is being done on Penney Farms, where now about ninety
farmers are located and working, with more coming in right
along. Right here let it be said. that Penney Farms are not for
sale, at this time. Even careful selection is being made of the
farmers who are permitted to come in and go to farming in
the Penney Farms area. At the end of a year, if those accepted
as Penney Farms farmers prove satisfactory, and want to pur-
chase farms, of twenty acres each, at a price fixed at the begin-
ning of their trial term, they may do so. But they must prove
their farming ability and be thoroughly satisfied, otherwise
they are not wanted. Penney Farms wants real farmers; the
enterprise wants no failures, no "hit-or-miss" farmers; it
wants to prove that intelligent, diligent, practical farming is
possible and profitable.
What Mr. Penney has in mind-what he had in mind from
the very first inception of this great farm project-is best ex-
pressed by himself in the address made at the second annual
Fro m arm d 4 Um Stock Rmslr, March 19r.


banquet, above referred to, which was attended by more than
400 people-men, women and children, some of whom made
speeches; some sang, others rendered delightful instrumental
music-but all listened very intently from 6.30 to 10.30 P. M.
Right here it ought to be said that Mr. Penney, and those
associated with him in his commercial enterprise, is the owner
of some 800 department stores, in a chain extending over a
vast territory in this country, that last year did a business
aggregating $115,000,000 and that is estimated will amount
to $150,000,000 this year.
In the course of his banquet address Mr. Penney said:
"A year ago we had some thirty-five or forty farmers;
today we have eighty-eight. Mr. Morton asked me when he
wrote to me to talk on the future of Penney Farms and .I
wrote back to Mr. Morton, 'I cannot do it,' I can't talk on the
future of Penney Farms, and the reason that I can't talk on
it is that I consider the future possibilities infinite, and every-
thing that is infinite is limitless, and anything that is limitless
cannot be talked about.
"I am thinking about a year ago. I thought we had made
more progress over the year previous. You folks will never
know just the spectacle that Mr. Rood and I first beheld when
we first saw that tract. It was in a bad condition, but I didn't
see the sandy roads-I saw beyond them. I knew that the
houses that were in a tumble-down condition could be replaced.
My twenty-five years of experience with the J. C. Penney
Company-or twenty-three years then-had convinced me that
here was my great opportunity, and we have stores in forty-six
"I know of no State in which we have stores that presents
the opportunities that the State of Florida presents today. I
saw the opportunity two years ago, and I am proud of the
progress that has been made. I am not thinking about the
possibilities, even though it has been predicted that in a few
years we will have 6000 farms, which we would have if they


,. L. ", I


were divided up into twenty-acre farms, which mean twenty-
five or thirty thousand people.
"I am thinking beyond that. I am thinking about what this
means not only to Florida, not only to the South, not only
to the United States, but what this means to the whole world.
Dr. Poling (a preceding speaker), you will be interested to
know that just a short time ago I received a letter from New
Zealand inquiring about what we were doing. They had been
attracted by something that Dr. Poling had written. I have
had several letters from Germany, and it is my hope and my
ambition that not only will this be a credit to Clay county and
the State of Florida, and to the whole South, and the whole
nation, but that New Zealand and Denmark and all of the coun-
tries that are noted for farming along co-operative lines will
have something to point to.
"That is my ambition, and I believe that we are on the right
road, with the right kind of men and the right kind of women.
Again, my long experience leads me to say that where there
is an outstanding man, somewhere not far distant is an out-
standing woman. We have got to have strong hearts among
the women, the same as we have strong hearts among the men.
Give me the right kind of men and women-men and women
who are brave, who have the courage of their convictions, men
and women who are willing to work, thoroughly, unselfishly,
and I want to tell you that words of no man will be able to
describe the possibilities of Penney Farms.
"The Penney Company, as Mr. Sams has so well told you-
he told you the history better than I can tell you-found that
the problem has been men. We started in 1902. The first
little store would set in one of these corners. We lived up over
the stores, in a little town in Wyoming with one thousand souls,
twenty-five years ago. The people laughed at us. They said,
'It can't be done.' 'You can't do business in a mining town
where they are only paid once a month. You can't do a cash
business, and you can't do business on a side street?' That
little store, which did a business of $29,000 the first year, has

--- ~-~~ ~- ~-~~-


sprung this year to a business that, at the most conservative
estimate, will amount to $150,000,000.
"Now, there is no limit to the possibilities here. You folks
know that there is no waste of money. We are not trying to
build something for show. There is no selling talk going on. A
man couldn't any more come in here and put down his check and
get twenty acres of land and a deed for it than he could fly from
here to New York. We are not in the real estate game,
and that is one thing that has made this thing. It has made
the newspapers of Jacksonville feel that this is an enterprise
that is founded on the right principles, and it has made them
most helpful in spreading through the State the policy of this
development. Some two or three representatives of the news-
papers are here with us tonight. We have business men here
from Jacksonville. Jacksonville is very much interested in
what we are doing. The whole State is interested.
"After my talk the other day, many came to me and said,
'We know about your development in Green Cove Springs.'
Many of those folks shook my hand and said, 'We have traded
in your store.' And it did my heart good to hear them say,
'You've got the best stores in town,' and to have them tell me
about our store managers. That is what I want people to see
about this development. I want them to be so impressed by
the farmers and their farms that they will go back and spread
the gospel all over the country.
"It has been a great pleasure, folks, to have been with you
tonight, and I want to say that this will be one of the red-letter
days of my life. It has been a full day, and I am mighty happy
tonight at the thought of having you folks here, being with
you, seeing the fine spirit that is evidenced among you."
Dr. Albert A. Johnson, president of the J. C. Penney-Gwinn
Institute of Applied Agriculture, that has been established on
the Penney Farms, and is functioning, in his address at the
banquet said:


'-* tat- >' : *i.%.; .. .i .*N '2 ^ .


Mr. Chairman, friends:
"We are meeting here this evening under most auspicious
conditions. It seems but a few weeks since I came, but in this
short time I have seen the equivalent of years of progress. The
decision to organize the J. C. Penney-Gwinn Institute of
Applied Agriculture was determined upon last May-less than
ten months ago. The cardinal thoughts in the minds of the
sponsors and organizers of the institute was to bring into
existence an educational institute that would give to students
in the institute and to farmers on the farms instruction in the
various phases of agriculture and homemaking, both applied
and theoretical, and in such a way as to make the instruction
readily useable and easily assimilated.
"In the development of this new type of agricultural educa-
tion it has been found necessary to break away from the tra-
ditional methods used in the old-established agricultural
colleges. The institute is being developed along definite plans,
growing rapidly in strength and recognition, until today, before
the end of its first year of existence, it has received very favor-
able comment from high State and Federal officials, as well
as editorially through some of our leading papers.
"The selecting of a faculty for an institute of applied agri-
culture is of great importance. It is not buildings that make
educational institutions great, but strong, consecrated faculties.
Men and women who can successfully apply their own instruc-
tions in the fields, orchards and barns. In this respect I may
say without fear of contradiction that we have as strong an
agricultural faculty as can be found in the South.
"The institute desires as its regular students industrious
young men and women 18 years of age, or over, who have
determined on agriculture as their life vocation, and who can
measure up to the highest moral tests. To such students pro-
vision has been made whereby they may go to school and work
for compensation on alternate days, thus making it possible
for students who can and will apply themselves to work their


way through. To those who show exceptional aptitude and
who make application for a Penney Farm and are accepted
by the farm manager the privilege is given to operate their
farms on work-days and continue their education, so that on
graduation they will have their agricultural education and will
already have a start in the organization and operation of their
own farms. Through extension work their instructors con-
tinue to guide them in the operation of their farms. This
solves the great problem confronting the agricultural college
graduate, who upon graduation is usually in debt and must
work for several years to get sufficient funds to buy a farm
on which to apply the instruction received.

"The opportunities offered students in the institute are new,
novel and generous, and I know of no other place in this coun-
try or abroad where similar opportunities obtain. Information
with reference to the institute is just now becoming known.
Recently a very fine article appeared in the Christian Endeavor
World, and from this article alone communications are com-
ing in from all parts of the United States.

"The institute activities are not confined to giving instruc-
tions to regular students; fully two-thirds of its time is devoted
to extension work with Penney Farms farmers together with
demonstrations and entire 120,000 acres of land comprising
Penney Farms.

"The extension work is of the intensive type, which permits
the extension workers to follow closely the development of all
crops through the growing period. Advice and assistance can
be given the farmers on short notice to the institute officers.
The high type of pioneer spirited farmers who occupy Penney
Farms and their desire for help makes the extension work
productive of much good. One high United States Depart-
ment of Agriculture official has spoken of this aid as more
than equal to land value insurance. Aside from the regular
extension work, such as testing of soils preparatory to plant-
ing, recommending of proper fertilizers, inspecting of seed


.* *.; .. .. -.4 ..;. .. *.. .; ,* ^ j .


for quality and disease, drainage and cultural methods, other
services are being rendered.
"At present a detailed soil survey is being made of the entire
120,000-acre tract of land by highly trained United States
Government soil survey specialists under the supervision of
the department of agronomy of the institute. This soil survey,
when completed, about May 1, will accurately define the loca-
tion of the various soil types. Demonstration plantings will
be made on the different types of soils, and the result will be
that we will know our soils, what they will produce and what
treatment each particular soil type will require in order that
it might be made to produce its maximum.
"There are many demonstration plantings being carried on,
as, for instance, grapes, pecans, tung oil trees, small fruits,
peppermint plants, and many different kinds of roughage crops
for dairy cattle. Special short courses on current farm news,
containing timely articles on various agricultural subjects
applying directly to local conditions, are issued weekly. All of
these activities are being carried on in order to guide our
farmers so that they may be assured the maximum rewards for
the money and efforts expended.
"The Penney Farms farmers are of the kind who went west
and developed the great agricultural States of the Middle
West. They are not content with the average things in life,
but are seeing opportunities and improvements, and like true
Americans, they have the ability to advance to better conditions.
"Friends, in conclusion, I want to say that it is the mag-
nanimous spirit of Mr. J. C. Penney and his associates that
has made these many opportunities possible. Only his and
their great faith in Florida and mankind is responsible for
the present success and the assured future greatness of the
various activities at Penney Farms."


Secretary of Labor James J. Davis, in the Cabinet of Presi-
dent Coolidge, sent a telegram, that was read by Mr. Johnson,
and in which he said:
"On occasion of anniversary celebration I tender to
J. C. Penney hearty congratulations, born of sincere
admiration of his work. I have never seen anything
exactly like it before. His philanthropy is a bold
and novel aa it is useful His farm community must
result in benefit beyond computation. He puts the
State in his debt by adding to its production and
productive population. He opens opportunities to
hundreds of individuals. He sets the whole nation an
example of aid offered in terms that heighten the self-
repect of those who receive it. Ininite good is certain
to come of thi fine experiment in riculture
"To aged clergmen Mr. Penney has been equally
thoughtful. He blesses their old age with what every
human being deirea-a home to thee already fruitful
lives. He offer a golden autumn by bleming humanity
as he does. May J. C. Penney, hine, be largely
blessed with many more days of usefunme to his fel-
Secretary of Labor."



The Penney Farms

W HY, it may be asked by some, is so much attention
being paid to Penney Farms?" located ,and making
progress, in Clay County, Florida.
The question is a very proper one, especially for asking by
those who are not familiar with the work that the projectors
of Penney Farms are trying to do. From the very beginning
of this project nation-wide interest has been shown, not because
what is being attempted by Mr. Penney and his associates
is something new, but because there is evidence of intense
desire on the part of Penney Farms projectors to do something
that is thoroughly practical and for the benefit of agriculture
everywhere. This "something" is to bring more of scientific
and practical knowledge, as well as practical experience, into
the great business of farming. This is the underlying purpose
of the work that Mr. Penney has started to do, and that he
proposes to carry along in the most businesslike manner, and
without thought of any great benefit to himself other than
the satisfaction of knowing that his work is for the particular
good of the farming industry, and for the good of humankind
in general.
The Penney Farms project is just entering on its third
year of operation. It has not had time to become thoroughly
established, there being many things yet to be done, and that
will require time for the doing. The work, however, is show-
ing remarkable progress, considering the time it has been
going on, under the direction of those engaged therein.
There are now about 90 farmers and their families located
on Penney Farms. In addition, and constituting a most im-
portant feature, is the Penney-Gwinn Institute of Applied
Agriculture, that has been established and that is functioning
on Penney Farms. It is an institution that may be referred to
as a farming university, in that its sole purpose is to teach the
theory and the science of agriculture, and along with the teach-
ing to provide for actual experience to be acquired by the
Rdllnrite from Farm and LWl St eek Rercd, Jacklmtalll. Pa.. March. 1927


students, who are carefully selected from among thousands of
applicants in every State in the Union, only those being ac-
cepted who give substantial evidence of being sincerely inter-
ested in agriculture and who give most of assurance of making
farming their life work.
It may be said that farming is one of the oldest of occupa-
tions. It is. But old-time farming, in many instances, is out
of date, is not practical enough in this new-time age, in which
there is such urgent call for only thoroughly good work to be
done, in farming as in other lines of necessary endeavor. In
former times, when this country was sparsely settled, and when
very much of what is now the United States was not settled
at all, there was comparatively little need for scientific farming.
The total number of people was small; needs in the food line
were easily satisfied. Today this country has a population of
approximately 125,000,000. Since the census of 1920, when
the population totalled 110,000,000, there has been increase
estimated at 13,000,000 people. In other words, the popula-
tion of this country is growing at the rate of 2,000,000 per
year. It is easy to understand that more food is required to
feed 125,000,000 people than was required to feed 50,000,000
or, later, 110,000,000, and that, therefore, more land must be
cultivated, greater food crops produced, and that also there must
be, in the very nature of things, more practical cultivation of
the soil, in order that there may be greater production on com-
paratively small areas of land than formerly was produced,
with least of effort and with least of concern with reference to
food requirements beyond the needs of farmer families.
All these things, and many more, Mr. Penney has con-
sidered and is continuing to consider in a thoroughly business-
like way. His intense desire is to place the business of agri-
culture on a higher plane than heretofore it has occupied, to
bring more of intelligence and more of better business methods
into the conduct of farming operations. Out of these con-
siderations Penney Farms has become a reality and an enor-
mous future possibility of practical and valuable achievement.
The foregoing are some of the reasons why Penney Farms
is a project that is attracting so much of serious attention, as
is entirely in order.


Where Money Alone Will Not Buy
A Farm

T WENTY-FIVE years ago a young man by the name of
J. C. Penney opened up a general dry goods store in a
little mining town in Wyoming. Folks told him he would
fail-that he couldn't sell goods for cash in a place where
miners had to wait long for their pay and were accustomed
to being carried by the merchants from one payday to the next.
But the thing that couldn't be done he did, and he did it so
well that last year the J. C. Penney Stores numbered nearly
800 and did a gross business of $115,000,000!
On a recent night in February I was one of a company of
four hundred, mostly farmers and their families, who arose
to their feet in a great outburst of applause to greet the appear-
ance of Mr. Penney on the second anniversary of his great
agricultural and social experiment called Penney Farms, five
miles west of Green Cove Springs, Florida.
I have attended scores of farmer gatherings the last ten
years. For the most part they seethed with discontent and
were called to register protests against justifiable grievances,
in hopes of obtaining redress. With these experiences in my
mind I was unprepared for the happy spirit and atmosphere
of good-will which seemed to fill every corer of the.great con-
struction camp. I waited expectantly for one of the farmer
speakers to denounce the Government, damn the tariff and
the middleman, or make the usual prediction about farming
going to the eternal bow-wows. But I waited in vain. If
there is any unrest among the hundred or so farmers tilling the
fertile soil of Penney Farms, it was not in evidence on this
particular occasion.
"We hoe, we hoe, we hoe," sang four stalwart farmers in
overalls and straw hats, bearing the implements of their voca-
From the Florida Farmer, Jacksonville, Fia., March IS, 1927.


tion upon their shoulders. They sang of the dignity of farm-
ing, and of their pride in honest labor. And throughout the
evening, in song and orchestral music, in speeches of prose
and poetry, the Penney Farms farmers and their wives and
children filled the great hall with paeans of praise for their
happy farming community and the man whose vision and
philanthropy had brought it into being.
It was my privilege a few days later to meet this master
merchant and founder of Penney Farms, whose name is
familiar to millions of farmers and small-town folks in the
forty-eight States where the Penney Stores now operate. Al-
though Mr. Penney is better known to the present than that
great pioneer merchant, A. T. Stewart, was to his contemporary
generation, and his genius as a merchant deserves to rank with
that of John Wanamaker and Marshall Field, it was not his
experience as a seller of goods which interested me. As editor
of the Florida Farmer I wanted to find out how he happened
to conceive the idea of Penney Farms, what the Penney Farm
plan is, if it was working out to the satisfaction of its founder,
and if it suggested any solution to the nation's farming prob-
"My experience in the store business gave me my idea for
Penney Farms," explained Mr. Penney as he pointed out the
route to take on our inspection of the big tract. "I got my start
in the store business through the lift which the original owners
of my first store gave me. I saw that if they could have faith
in me, I could have faith in other men. It was my confidence
in the ability of other men to assume positions of responsibility
when given a little encouragement and a share of the profits
that has built up our big trusted force of store managers and
made our company what it is."
A February storm which had been brewing for several hours
now broke upon us. The rain descended in torrents; the igni-
tion on my car got wet and we just managed to crawl along



the flooded by-road. But I was glad for the rain. It improved
my opportunity for a closer acquaintance with my distinguished
host, and, moreover, gave us better chance to observe the neat
little farmhouses and the carefully laid-out fields and gardens
where beans, peas, lettuce, cabbage, corn, potatoes and many
other crops were growing lush and green. You could see at
a glance that the folks who lived in these tidy cottages were a
thrifty, prosperous and contented lot.
"But farmers," I said to Mr. Penney, "aren't they different,
too individual and that sort of thing to enter a co-operative
community scheme ?"
"No, farmers are no different than other folks," replied Mr.
Penney. "They respond to a little encouragement just like
anyone else. In establishing the Penney-Gwinn Farms, Mr.
Gwinn and I figured out that there were a good many farmers
in this country who were just getting by, or perhaps were just
falling a little short of getting by. Perhaps they were farming
too much land, or their soil was poor, or their mortgage too
heavy. Probably they would never be able to work out their
salvation alone. So we conceived the idea of these farms and
a plan of assistance to give worthy farmers a start.-
"-See that patch of beans there," Mr. Penney interrupted
his thoughts long enough to point out, "a woman owns this
farm, and for a single picking of beans last week she got
over $175."
"---Our standard farm unit," resumed Mr. Penney, "con-
sists of twenty acres, but we have a number of smaller units
ranging as low as two and a half acres for the man with a
"But some people say that twenty acres are not enough to
make a living on in this State," I said.
"Twenty acres are enough," returned Mr. Penney with
emphasis; "we will not sell a man more than twenty acres,
because he cannot farm them efficiently. We are not looking


for farmers who want a big tract of land and who must invest
a large amount in machinery and hire expensive labor to till it.
We want small home-owners who are satisfied with a gross
income of $3000 or $4000 a year. Twenty acres are enough
for the average man and his family to take care of. It will
keep them hustling the year around to do it, and if they farm
efficiently, as we propose that they shall do, with the special aid
which the Penney-Gwinn Institute is able to give them, they
will make a comfortable living, be able to pay for their land
and put away something besides."
"Oh, yes, about your Institute. In what way does that help
your farmers?"
"The Penney-Gwinn Institute is a school of applied agri-
culture. We teach nothing except what our own experiments
here on the farms show us is sound and practical. Teaching
young men and women the sciences of agriculture is only a part
of the Institute's work. Another part, I may say the most
important part, is the study of soil and production problems of
our farmers by a competent staff of specialists. The services
of the Institute are at the disposal of our farmers without
"I understand you have farmers here from all over the
United States," I said, "do you have any trouble in finding
prospects for your land, and just what inducements do you
offer them?"
"Right here," replied Mr. Penney, "I want you to know
that we have no land for sale to anyone just because he has
money to buy it. In that respect Penney Farms differ from
any other agricultural development I know of in the United
States. We pick our farmers. Those who measure up to
our requirements can come here and locate with a very little
money. Those who fall short of those requirements cannot
buy land of us at any price. The men whom we choose to
make their homes in this community must have previously
proven themselves to be industrious, thrifty, sober, God-fearing


and home-loving men. Men who drink are barred, as are
also those who smoke cigarettes. We prefer protestant Amer-
ican families, but neither race nor religion is a bar. Over
there is a Portuguese; down the road is a German. Both are
among our best farmers. Nineteen religious denominations
are represented in our community church.
"We require that all applicants for land have at least $500
in cash when they arrive here. We prefer that they have a
thousand. If the applicant's record is satisfactory, we turn
over to him one of our twenty-acre units, all cleared, fenced,
drained, ready for the plow, and with a house. He may occupy
this farm for six months, and have all the crops he raises with-
out paying us a penny. If at the end of that time he wants to
stay and we want him to stay, we sell him the 20-acre farm
for around $5000, take a small payment down, and a contract
for the balance on easy terms."
"And how has the plan worked out?"
"You can judge for yourself. Penney Farms is two years
old. The first year we took in forty farmers. The second year
about fifty. The first year we lost three-one of them elected
to go because his wife was not satisfied, and the other two
we requested to leave for good and sufficient reasons."
"And the future-- ?"
"Well," smiled Mr. Penney, "who can say? We have
120,000 acres of land here, with 20,000 acres cleared and
under cultivation. We are now erecting 50 more houses. So
far our experiment has proven a success, beyond our fondest
dreams. We have land enough here to support six to ten
thousand farmers, and we have more applications than we can
fill at the present time. We have proven, to our own satisfac-
tion at least, that a little lift at the right time will turn failure
into success for many a man, and we are applying that principle
here. Penney Farms farmers are succeeding largely through
their own efforts, of course, but few of them would have been
so far ahead had we not sought them out and given them a
helping hand."


By now we had made a swing through the entire cultivated
section of the tract, and barely had time to inspect the huge
chicken plant, where thousands of white Leghorns turned the
peaceful February afternoon into a bedlam of contented cackles
and cluckings. A visit to the pear orchards, a glance at the
Japanese persimunons, the many acres of pecans, satsuma
oranges, grapes, blackberries and blueberries, and a hurried
visit to the co-operative store, where more than $50,000 busi-
ness was transacted last year on a capital of $3000, a warm
hand-clasp from our kindly democratic host, and we had to go.
There is a bigger and finer storyy yet to tell about J. C.
Penney's memorial to his father and mother. It has to do
with attractive homes for retired ministers of the gospel,
facing a landscaped boulevard, at one end of which stands a
chapel. But this story we shall have to save for another time.

i: -- .. ..'



Unique Farm Development of izo,ooo
Acres In Florida
J. C. Penney-Gwinn Corporation Farms-An Ex-
periment That May Reveal Solutions of Many
of Our Agricultural Problems

ONE of the most significant agricultural experiments of
the age is getting well under way in Clay county, in the
northern part of the Florida peninsula. It is the J. C. Pen-
ney-Gwinn Corporation Farms, 36 miles southwest of Jack-
sonville. Much has been published about it during the last
year or two in the Manufacturers Record and elsewhere, but.,
its magnitude and many ramifications have never yet been
adequately described.
Here is a tract of a little over 120,000 acres-one-third of
the county-being developed into a co-operative community
of intensively cultivated small farms, with every farmer hand-
picked for character, energy and ability. Most of the farms
will contain 20 acres-the maximum size. A few will be of
5 and 2j/2 acres, for mechanics, carpenters and others who
cannot give full time to farming. Something like 3500 farms
and scientifically reforested woodlands will be the ultimate
Thirty-five hundred farms will probably mean 14,000 peo-
ple. This number, or even 10,000 people of the high type
being selected for the Penney Farms, closely knit into a co-
operative buying, cultivating and selling organization, will
make a community unique in this country and one which will
surely solve many of the problems now harassing our farmers.
The J. C. Penney-Gwinn Corporation Farms is the creation
of a man of proved business ability. It is already well under
way and is growing steadily. Its community hall, where the
From Mm/eeootere Rerord, Baltimore, Md., May 20. 1027.



farmers and their wives meet to learn of and to discuss the
latest and best farming methods, or possible new additions to
their crops, such as cultivated blue-berries, is a center around
which is revolving the humming activity of a young but
enthusiastic and growing community.
The co-operative general store, with a capital of $3000, did
a $55,000 business in 1926. It sold cheaply, but paid divi-
dends to its owners. It is the first unit of what must, with
the growth of the community, become one day a hustling
town with stores, banks, theaters and all the rest of it. The
schools, scattered and small, will eventually grow to large
proportions. Its single non-sectariap, church will become
inadequate, and others will rise to take care of the growing
To understand the principle on which the whole plan is
based it is necessary to go back to the manner in which its
founder, starting with $500 of his own and $1500 of bor-
rowed capital, as one-third owner of a dry-goods store in
Kemmerer, Wyo., twenty-six years ago, developed a chain
system of over 800 department stores, known as the J. C.
Penney Company, which will do a business in 1927 of more
than $150,000,000. The foundation principle there was a
combination of individual ownership with large-scale manage-
ment. The former furnished incentive, the latter furnished
large-scale buying power and the expert supervision made pos-
sible by the employment of able, high-salaried executives.
With his first savings Mr. Penney bought the store in which
he had been employed as a clerk. When he opened a second,
he sold a one-third interest to its manager, a man he had
trained in his store. He opened a third and a fourth; he kept
on opening them. In every case the manager of a store was
enabled to buy a one-third ownership. Eventually, when a
large number of stores had been opened, Mr. Penney was able
to organize a purchasing department that employed expert
buyers who knew more about their individual lines than any
store manager, handling all lines, could possibly know about
any one line. He was able to secure the price reductions that
.. .. ...__.


go with large orders. He was able to perfect a distributing
system having a high degree of efficiency, so that he could
supply his many stores with better values than could be secured
As the son of a farmer, Mr. Penney learned at first hand
to appreciate the problems and the trials of the farmers. From
his early years he carried over also a lively interest in farming.
When his idea of individual ownership, combined with the
expert management and large buying power of a great cor-
poration, had proved highly successful in his stores, Mr. Pen-
ney began to think of it as applied to agriculture. Eventually
he determined to give the idea a trial.
The first step was to secure the necessary land. This he
found after much search in a tract of 120,000 acres of Clay
county, Florida. The terms on which the land was offered
would enable him to resell it in 20-acre farms at a price suit-
able for farming and still show a profit. And a profit it must
show, for this was to be no philanthropy but a thorough-
going business venture.
Some 20,000 acres were already cleared and ready for cul-
tivation when Mr. Penney took over the land. A few farm
buildings dotted it, but they were in such bad condition that he
had to renovate them completely. A canning plant, located on
the property, but owned by an independent concern, was
bought in to be used as an outlet for much of the farm prod-
uce. The plan is for the canning factory to utilize the sur-
plus products grown on the farms.
Due to a total lack of good roads, the land was inaccessible.
The next step, therefore, was to build a complete highway and
road system. A tract of 120,000 acres contains nearly 190
square miles, and if laid off in a perfect square would be
between 13 and 14 miles on a side. Mr. Penney's tract is
irregular in shape, and in some directions is much longer
than 13 miles. Evidently many miles of roadway will be nec-
essary to render all of his farms readily accessible.
The work of road building is proceeding rapidly. Respon-
sibility for a large portion of such development falls upon the


county in which the operation takes place. The county, there-
fore, issued bonds for a macadamized road connecting Green
Cove Springs and Starke, 28 miles to the west, and bisecting
the Penney tract. To avoid any possible delay in the sale of
the bonds, Mr. Penney bought them all. Then he bid on and
secured the contract for surfacing the road. At this writing-
March 1-the broad public highway between the towns of
Green Cove Springs and Starke is about completed, and the
people of both towns are looking forward with interest to
one of the earliest of the important public benefits coming
from the enterprise. I say one of the first; the town of Green
Cove Springs, lying just to the east of the Penny tract, has
taken on new life from the activities to the west of it, and
today is one of the busiest and most prosperous little towns
in Florida.
State Highway No. 3, to be paved to a width of 16 feet
and now under construction, will reduce the distance between
Penney Farms and Jacksonville to 36 miles. The same high-
way, continued south from Green Cove Springs to Palatka,
will afford through traffic to the east and west coasts and the
central ridge section of the Florida peninsula. Another paved
highway, crossing the St. Johns River by a new toll bridge at
Green Cove Springs, will reduce the distance between Penney
Farms and St. Augustine from 86 miles to 24 miles. On
this State and highway system as a base, Mr. Penney is build-
ing the farm roads that will make all his farms readily acces-
Having the road system well started, the next and great
step was to get farmers to settle the land. At this point a rad-
ical departure was made from the plans of all other farm-sell-
ing schemes of which I have ever heard. Ordinarily, farms
are sold to all comers who will undertake to pay the price.
From the first Mr. Penney adopted the same careful selective
process in picking farmers that he had always used in selecting
managers for his stores. Only the cream of all his applicants
is accepted. The magnitude of the unique experiment has
attracted much interest and articles about it have been


appearing in numerous high-class magazines. Mr. Penney
believes that his selective process starts here, for only men of
considerably more than average intelligence and alertness read
such magazines.
The articles published bring inquiries from prospective set-
tlers. Then the individual selective process begins in earnest.
Inquiries are carefully appraised and the most promising are
followed up. Finally, after a number of good prospects have
been located in a given part of the country, Mr. Francis
Clarke, manager of the farm work, gets on the train and goes
out to look them over. Personal interviews and careful in-
quiries about town as to the prospect's reputation follow. A
few, a very few, are selected for a trial.
When a prospective buyer arrives at Penney Farms the
selective process is by no means completed. The real test is
still to come. Every chosen prospect is given the use of a
farm for a specified test period-formerly 1 year, but now
6 months-free of charge. During that time he is being care-
fully sized up. He must have money enough-$750 to $1000
-to make his first crop. He must fit well in a co-operative
community, a thing few farmers will do. His habits and his
character must prove to be all they were represented to be.
He must be a worker with a distinct talent for farming. He
need not be an experienced farmer. Mr. Penney says: "We
have taken some men who have never farmed a day in their
lives and who are among our best farmers. Any man who
has the farming instinct, who desires to live in the country
and is willing to work, will be considered, provided, of course,
he has the necessary qualifications." If he proves satisfactory
to the management, and the location and other conditions are
satisfactory to him, he contracts to buy the farm at the price
previously agreed upon. If either side is dissatisfied with the
other, he moves out. In either case he has had the use of the
farm rent free, and he keeps the profits of his six months'
farming. It is worth noting that farther north a six months'
farming period, unless carefully timed, would not amount to


much; in Florida it is enough to raise one crop at any time of
the year, for crops grow there the year round.
In brief, only men of excellent character, clean lives and
abundant energy are chosen for the test period; only the best
of them are kept. In justice to the perspicacity with which
they are selected it should be said, however, that about 90 per
cent of those who have been tried have been permitted to pur-
chase their farms.
From this it is evident that the Penney farmers are hand-
picked. Probably no such splendid lot has ever before been
assembled in one community as those that are gathering on
the big tract near Green Cove Springs.
A Penney farmer, established as owner of a 20-acre farm,
on which he is to make annual payments, has the incentive of
ownership. He has other advantages that a lone farmer, out-
side such an organization, could never have.
First, he has the advantage of much service at cost by the
Penney Farms Corporation-for example, tractor plowing,
purchase of nursery stock and nursery plants, such as tomatoes,
celery, etc. Then, he has the benefit of expert advice and
chemical analyses of samples of his soil to determine what fer-
tilizer it needs and for what crops it is suited. He has the
benefit of the low prices for fertilizer and implements that the
organization's large buying power gives it. He has the bene-
fit of studies made by expert agriculturists of crop surpluses,
carry-overs from the previous year, and probable prices for
the coming year, in order to decide which of possible alternate
crops will most probably yield good profits. He has the best
possible instruction, if he is new to the State, in the planting
and cultivation of his crops. And, finally, in the marketing
seasons, he has the service of a large and capable marketing
organization for the sale of his produce in the best markets
and at the best prices obtainable. Thus the expenses and the
risks of farming are reduced to a minimum, while its profits
per unit of crops produced are raised to the maximum.
Many a colonization scheme has failed because, first, no care
was used in the selection of farmers, and second, no instruc-


tion given them after they had arrived on the scene. In spite
of the average farmer's conviction that he knows his business,
very few of them are scientific or truly expert, even in a cli-
mate and on land with which they have long been familiar.
When transplanted from various Northern States to a semi-
tropical section, and from one soil type to another, very dif-
ferent soil, they not only need instruction,'but they realize that
need and readily accept it. The agricultural extension
courses given on the Penney Farms are therefore eagerly
absorbed and carefully used.
The work of locating farmers is progressing with moderate
speed, about 100 being already on the tract. Snug, attractive
little four-room farmhouses are going up on many farms in
preparation for the farmers to come. It is believed that every
satisfied farmer will bring friends from his own locality, and
the rate of growth of the colony will thus be considerably
The agricultural extension course has been mentioned; it
brings up one of the most important features of the venture-
the Agricultural Institute. As the name implies, this is a
thoroughgoing college for the farmers, for their growing chil-
dren, and for the specially qualified students in agriculture who
want to make farming, or farm home making, their life work.
What is considered an exceptionally fine course has been
worked out by a group of experts in agricultural education,
applying to the grade school, the high school and the Institute
in proper relationship. The new elementary school of approved
modern design, featuring agriculture in this co-operative pro-
gram, will be ready for occupancy in September. Entrance
requirements in the Institute for special students are an age
of 16 years or more; some technical training in agriculture;
general moral and intellectual standards required of the pur-
chasers of Penney Farms. It is expected that exchange credits
with other accredited agricultural colleges will be arranged for,
so that graduates may go elsewhere to study if they desire so
to do.
The opportunities for combining study with profitable farm-




ing, and the exceptionally high standards of character, energy
and intelligence, are drawing together a group that includes
many farmers of exceptional parts. Their number includes a
former assistant treasurer of a small college.
All the indications point to the development of one of the
most unusual and interesting small communities to be found
anywhere in the country. From such a collection of active,
progressive minds, led by the vision and the rare construc-
tive genius of J. C. Penney, should come demonstrations of
the solutions of some of the most vexing problems in agri-
culture today. Mr. Penney's unique experiment will be
watched with the liveliest interest from all parts of the country.


The Penney Institute and Community

t(zcerpt from "HOW FLORIDA 18 OBTTINO ON." by Dr. Albert Bhaw, The
Amrkwes Roletw *I .1dewa, May. 197.)

T might be hard to find anywhere in the world a more inter-
esting agricultural experiment than that which has been re-
cently undertaken by Mr. J. C. Penney, the head of a famous
chain-store enterprise. Mr. Penney has acquired a tract of land,
the front door of which consists of the beautiful little city of
Green Cove Springs, some thirty-six miles southwest of
Jacksonville, and sixteen miles west of St. Augustine (this
being the distance by a new highway utilizing a bridge across
the broad St. Johns River to be built within a few months).
The Penney lands comprise about 120,000 acres in a block not
precisely rectangular, but in a general way extending twenty
miles in one direction and ten miles in the other.
To open up this great area, and to colonize farmers in an
intelligent and satisfactory manner, Mr. Penney begins by creat-
ing an Agricultural Institute. He provides for general admin-
istration, and assembles expert engineers, architects, soil chem-
ists, road builders, poultry raisers, and men of experience in
the production and marketing of potatoes, berries, and various
standard and staple crops. He builds many miles of good
roads to open up the domain, and he provides an excellent
community school and a community church. He clears the
land; lays it off in small farms; provides building materials,
plans and contractors; and he actually creates, ready for opera-
tion, the type of farm that is suited to the preferences and apti-
tudes of the colonist who has been accepted after due investi-
gation. No colonists are desired except those who would make
good neighbors and who have the industry and character to
succeed. The enterprise, in short, is scientific, but not charita-
ble. It bids fair to be self-supporting, but Mr. Penney's
motives are public-spirited rather than mercenary, for he is
more interested in finding good ways to use his wealth than in
adding millions upon millions.


One of the things that catches the eye most strikingly, if one
visits the Penney barony, is the Memorial Church, surrounded
by cottages after the manner of some old village in Normandy,
that Mr. Penney has just now built to honor the memory of his
parents. The cottages are occupied by retired ministers of
various religious denominations, with their wives. It is not
intended to provide for more than a limited number of these
venerable servants of the Lord, but at least Mr. Penney pro-
poses to set an example that the denominational boards and
individual churchmen may heed. It is only in Florida, in this
decade, that it would seem to be feasible to try such colonizing
experiments on the great scale as Mr. Penney has entered upon.


The House of Worship

Clay County Times-(Florida.)
T HERE are many historic names for places of public wor-
ship-Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue, Cathedral, Mosque,
Chapel and the like. The name common with the early settlers
was Meeting House, a very apt designation. It matters little
whether it be called Cathedral or Salvation Army Barracks;
it is a place where the children of men assemble to pay homage
to "that ultimate reality whose insufficient name is God."
We residents of Memorial Home Community are witnessing
the completion of a splendid edifice for worship and service.
In prose it is a colossal pile of masonry, in poetry it is a stately
epic. It is a magnificent model of architecture after the order
of the old Norman-French which the Conqueror brought
into England in the Eleventh Century. Its type still
prevails in the Anglican Church, and is doubtless used here
to accord with the other features of the Community. The
church fronts the central thoroughfare of the twin roadsteads
and the great parkway. Its spacious tower looms upward two
and a half score feet, ending at the top in a fourfold easement
of finals. The auditorium under the high groined roof has
a double tier of windows, the lower tier under an extended
roof. From ruberoid pavement to the cypress-ribbed ceiling,
and from one serried rank of giant archways to its opposite
rank, there is a pervading atmosphere of tranquillity and spirit
of devotion. Music will be given a high place in the ritual
of service. In the choir loft over the pulpit platform it will
be a beautiful symphonic organ by the Aeolian Company of
New Jersey. Best of all the human voice, only, animated by
the soul within, will give vividness and reality to the rapture
of musical art.
At right angles to the sanctuary, and in itself an example


of the highest architectural art, is the Community chapel or
vestry room, made exceptionally cheerful and homelike by a
huge fireplace set in chiseled coquena rock, around whose hos-
pitable hearthstone many may cluster betimes for social con-
versations or silent meditation. Adjoining this living room is
a superb library room, elaborately corniced, sheathed and
shelved. Other rooms will provide facilities for serving re-
freshments to the outer man in the belief that body and mind
are intimate companions.
A characteristic of Mr. Penney's fondness for rare and ex-
pensive things, when thinking of his father and mother, is
seen in an unusual floor-covering--a rubber tiling one-fourth
inch thick, vulcanized to imitate brown marble. On the church
floors it will yield a noiseless tread, and in our kitchens and
bath it will be warm and soft when we "wear our feet bare."
Private devotions will always hold a sacred niche in the
sanctuary of the soul. In the "lone watches" of human ex-
perience one may "become his own cathedral," but for the
most part the people of God will "not forget the assembling
of themselves together." Residents of the Penney Foundation
will find in this new temple of worship a signal opportunity
for developing the spiritual and intellectual life.
"The House of Seven Gables" is a famous book of Haw-
thorne's. Our house of worship also, whether wittingly or
unwittingly, has seven gables, so it may be hereafter known as

Clay County Times-(Florida.)
It's high time we gave a column to these apartments. They
call loudly for a voice and a pen. Directed by the imagination
of their founder, the vision of their architect, the hands of


their builders, this fairy city, acres and acres in area, rises in
its graceful proportions, a vision of beauty and an example
of utility. The impulse of an ideal conceived it, the propulsion
of a reality created it. In the style of the great middle bour-
geoise class of Western Europe, it copies the forms of Spanish
architecture, with hints of the French and Flemish. At the
Penney Foundation it takes on a grace and originality all its
own. True to the law of artistic unity, it indulges in a diversity
of details that greatly enhances the aesthetic sense.
Look at one of these buildings of four or five apartments.
No cellars, no basements, but on a foundation firmer than stone
walls. Layer upon layer of concrete, sand and cinders, hollow
tiles, concrete, joists and then pine flooring. On this base a
low-lying structure with walls of hollow tiling, casement win-
dows opening outward, doors of solid cypress, roofs of boards,
paper and tiles in yellow, red and purple, playing about gables
and angles, dormer windows and ventilators, pierced by con-
creted chimneys and sloping cornices and copper eaves spouts
to inwrought porches upheld by heavy lintels and columns,
and all flanked by flinty walls in a color that rivals the brilliant
Have a look inside. Many householders in cheap or costly
homes criticise their internal arrangements. The interiors of
these apartments are models of convenience and comfort.
Nothing to be desired that is not here. A cozy fireplace with
plenty of Penney forest fuel; kitchen and laundry with every
facility; dining and living rooms in happy union; magically
disappearing beds; dresser, closet and bath in close affinity;
artistic fixtures for electric lighting and heating. The furnish-
ings are a joy. Rich in design, superior in handicraft, the
last word in decorative art.
This is a faulty attempt to picture a group of dwelling places,
so unique and appealing to the onlooker it can almost be said
of it, "Age cannot wither it nor custom stale its infinite
variety." It's a realistic dream-a lyric poem.

0 i-'


Clay County Shows Rapid Advance-
Clay county is the seat of the Penney-Gwnn develop-
ment, one of the most unusual, important and significant
agricultural projects in the State. Green Cove Springs,
the county-seat, has had an interesting history and is the
center of a rapidly developiNg agricultural district.

Special Representative of the Florida
State Chamber of Commerce.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, March 22, 1927.-In the
days before the automobile, when Sunday railroad excursions
were the thing and Sunday schools and other organizations held
annual picnics afar, one county in Florida had almost a mo-
nopoly in the picnic events, so far as that part of the State east
of Gainesville and north of St. Augustine was concerned. Clay
county was the place, and Green Cove Springs and Orange
Park the centers of attraction, congregating at Green Cove
Springs. Year after year the towns rarely saw a week pass
without a picnic of some kind, and there are thousands of
Floridians today who, as the younger set thirty years or more
ago, knew every nook and cranny upon the Green Cove Springs
winter estate of Gail Borden, pioneer condensed milk producer,
who amassed a huge fortune from the industry.
Green Cove Springs long ago ceased to be picnic grounds
on a large scale, the automobile did away with that, but if it
were possible to count the visitors who motor to those points
now the figures of thirty years ago would pale into insig-
PrrM. V.rth m..~*i. Mane b s 1st1.


nificance. J. C. Penney, in the development of his gigantic
agricultural project in Clay county, not only controls more
than 120,000 acres of land in the rural districts, but also owns
a large.portion of Green Cove Springs, which now has every
earmark of becoming a big town with the growth of its back
country. The Loyal Order of Moose entered Orange Park
several years ago, purchased two old hotel buildings overlook-
ing the St. Johns River, and has established there the national
home for aged members of the fraternity. Moose Haven even-
tually is expected to represent an investment of several mil-
lions of dollars.

The story of Clay county today is largely the story of J. C.
Penney. Twenty-five years ago, with $500 capital, Mr.
Penney, then twenty-six years of age, established a small store
at Kemmerer, Wyo., with the determination that his employes
would become partners in the business. There has grown from
this small beginning in a quarter of a century a chain of nearly
seven hundred department stores, scattered all over the country,
which in 1926 had an aggregate gross business of $115,000,000.
The managers of the Penney stores are part owners of the
establishments they operate. Mr. Penney had a boyhood love
for farming, and when the opportunity arose, several years ago,
gained control of the vast acreage in Clay county and deter-
mined to create small farms in large numbers and to apply to
them some of the principles which had worked out so well in
his mercantile business. And when he got into it there de-
veloped something unlike anything else in the county, a home
for retired Protestant ministers and their families. How it
came about is a story in itself.
Mr. Penney's father was a minister with ideas far in ad-
vance of the times. He was outspoken in the belief that
ministers should be better educated and should be paid more
for their labor, so the story goes. These ideas did not take
so well and his denomination cast him out. It made no differ-


ence to the Rev. Mr. Penney. His work was the Lord's work
and not that of any sect or creed, and throughout the remainder
of his life, something like forty years, he devoted his time to
preaching the gospel and the principles of right living.
J. C. Penney, in establishing the Penney Foundation, is
doing the work as a memorial to his father and mother.
Twenty-five of the most modern four-family apartment houses
are being completed at Penney Farms, formerly known as Long
Branch, eight miles west of Green Cove Springs, and as rapidly
as they are finished superannuated ministers are being domiciled
in them. When th project is completed one hundred ministers
and their families will be members of the colony. About the
only thing they will have to supply is their food and clothing,
and the food budget easily can be trimmed because each apart-
ment is supplied with a plot of ground 25x100 feet in area as
a garden site. At the present time, approximately half of the
apartments have been completed and are occupied and half a
hundred men who have devoted their lives toward making the
world a better place in which to live and who have by their
labor earned a brief period of rest before they go to their re-
ward, already are experiencing a little bit of heaven on earth
as the result of an idea.
There is something about the general air of peace and con-
tentment prevailing at the colony that would serve as an inspira-
tion to persons interested in making life brighter for those
whose days are almost numbered. These old folks have devoted
their active days toward smoothing the road of life for others
with no thought to their own pathways. They have labored
in a country where the winters were cold; there have been times
in the lives of many of them when they had to skimp and pinch
and economize to make both ends meet. Now they are at a
place where they can sit outdoors throughout the year, where
the sun shines all the time, where they have time to putter in a
garden and do the things they pictured years and years ago,
but which they believed never would be possible except in

_I~ I _


dreams. There are hundred of sermons in the work being done
in this direction by Mr. Penney and there is not a man or
woman living who could visit the colony and go away without
feeling the better for it.

Colonization of farms as the tracts are made ready for
occupancy is the easiest part of the work being done by the
J. C. Penney-Gwinn Corporation Farms organization in devel-
opment of the huge agricultural project. There is a list of
applicants by the hundreds from all parts of the country seek-
ing an opportunity to locate in Clay county, and it is probably
the only strictly agricultural project ever undertaken in this
country where the developers select the colonists. Usually
it is first come first served, but in this instance the shoe is on
the other foot.
The men preferred as colonists are men who have had experi-
ence in farming, poultry raising, trucking or fruit growing.
They must be of good character and must not be addicted to
intoxicants or cigarettes. It also is desirable that they be
affiliate with a church.
No payment is required when a farm is selected by a pro-
spective purchaser, or during the first six months of occupancy,
but the farmer is required to have enough money to maintain
himself and his family for six months and to purchase seed
and fertilizer necessary. The occupant is required to insure the
farmhouse for at least $750 when he takes possession.
A price for the farm will be agreed upon when the tenant
selects it. If the farmer is satisfied and the corporation has
found the farmer to be a desirable member of the community,
it is determined at the end of six months, in a conference
between the farmer and a representative of the corporation,
what sum the farmer shall pay annually toward purchase of
the farm he is working. Thus in a specified time he will
have paid for the farm out of its profits.


Applicants for Penney Farms originate largely through the
Penney chain of stores throughout the country and headquarters
of the Penney-Gwinn Corporation at Green Cove Springs, by
obtaining the co-operation of the stores, and detailed informa-
tion about the applicants is obtained, with the result that it will
be surprising if the project ever receives a colonist who will
prove undesirable. New England farmers seem to be in the
lead among the applicants, although other sections of the
country have a heavy representation. One official of the
corporation recently said that it appeared as if the whole of
rural New England desired to come to this State.
The corporation now has a soil survey of its entire holdings
under way, with the work under the supervision of experts
from the Federal Department of Agriculture, and when the
job is completed it will be known what crops are best suited
for each acre of the 120,000. If an applicant desires to special-
ize in potatoes, he will be placed on potato land, and so on.
This year the corporation is devoting most of its energies
to development of farms, with the expectation that the placing
of people on them will get under way on a large scale in 1928.
Many newcomers already are on hand, however. The huge
tract is in rolling country of a character that surprises the per-
son who is familiar with that section of Florida generally,
but who has not visited the territory west of Green Cove
Springs. A consequence is that drainage is natural, but drain-
age experts now are carrying out a systematic scheme which
will make it as nearly perfect as possible.
A new highway between Green Cove Springs and Starke
passes directly through the property. This road is open to
traffic from Green Cove Springs to a point well in the Penney
holdings; is finished east of Starke and lacks less than six
miles of being completed in its entirety.


As an adjunct to the development project, the Penney-Gwinn
Institute of Applied Agriculture has been organized with Dr.
A. A. Johnson, an internationally known agricultural expert,
in charge as president. Dr. Johnson has gathered a corps of
experts in every agricultural line from seed to marketing, hav-
ing secured a number of the best men from leading universities,
and farmers are being given instruction in the classroom, in
indoor and outdoor laboratories and upon their own farms.
The institute and its work is assurance that agriculture in Clay
county will become an exact science and not a hit-or-miss affair.
The work being done by the Penney-Gwinn Corporation has
resulted naturally in an increase in everything of an agricul-
ture nature in the county. There are more poultry raisers and
truck and general farmers, and acreage under cultivation is
being increased, the area in Irish potatoes this season, for ex-
ample, being 1147 acres, against 460 in 1926 and 554 in 1925.

With all the activity, both agriculturally and industrially,
business in the county is normal, if not better than the average,
with every indication of an excellent future the remainder of
this year. The county possesses several small sawmills, the
large clay tile plant of Gamble and Stockton at Doctor's Inlet,
a brick plant at Russell and a barrel factory at Green Cove
Springs. A number of turpentine stills also are in operation.
The timber supply is about gone, but there is an excellent stand
of second-growth pire in various parts of the county, and the
Penney-Gwinn Corporation is undertaking reforestation.
Green Cove Springs within the next year or two should
become one of the most important highway centers in Florida.
A State road is projected down the east bank of the St. Johns
from South Jacksonville to Hastings and work on a toll bridge
across the river at Green Cove Springs is expected to begin
in the near future. That section of State Road No. 3 from


Palatka to Green Cove Springs is being completed, a highway
is to be built by St. Johns county from St. Augustine to the
toll bridge, and the Green Cove Springs-Starke highway will
be completed shortly, a road which will intersect at Starke State
Road No. 28 from Lake City to Bunnell via Lake Butler,
Starke and Palatka.

With all of this development, Clay county might be expected
to have a bonded indebtedness running into the millions, but
it is responsible for the sum of only $750,000. And Green
Cove Springs, the county-seat, which has improved more in
the last five years than it did during the twenty years pre-
viously, has a bonded debt of only $215,000. Taxation has a
great deal to do with the acquisition of new residents, and with
only a small debt and consequent low taxes, there is little won-
der that the population is increasing rapidly. Green Cove
Springs was a town of only 1605 in 1925, having lost about 490
of its people during the previous five years, but it has made up
the deficit during the last two years, without a boom, and is
going ahead steadily. The county, including Green Cove
Springs, had a population of 5621 in 1920, against 4885 in
1925, and it has more than regained the loss during the last
two years. Clay county will bear watching by every county in
the State interested in the development of its agricultural


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