Frank Manci Block c1940

1716 Main Street

Just below the roofline of the red brick complex of buildings, east of Main Street, are the words “Frank Manci Block” etched in concrete. Of the original Italian colonists, Francesco (“Frank”) Manci has been called the greatest businessman.  Through his hard work and his natural talent for negotiation, he established, not only his homestead and farm, but also a cotton gin, a sawmill, and many businesses that evolved to keep pace with the times.  Frank wasted nothing, including, especially, his time. When a hurricane fell trees, the timber was used to build his next place of business.  He would nurture a new business until it paid for itself and then he would assign one of his many children to run it.  In 1902, Frank Manci was the first colonist to raise Irish potatoes and the first to ship potatoes out of Baldwin County, a practice that eventually grew into a major national farm produce shipping industry.  On Frank Manci’s farms, workers were paid with token coins, which were redeemable for merchandise at his stores.