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Secretary of State Names Jefferson County as Florida Main Street Program of the Month

seal of florida

Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
October 01, 2008

Contact:
Joan Jefferson
245.6345
jsjefferson@dos.state.fl.us

Secretary of State Names Jefferson County as Florida Main Street Program of the Month

Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Jefferson County Main Street has been designated as the Florida Main Street Community of the Month for October 2008. Communities are selected for this award based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program.

“Jefferson County Main Street recognizes the importance of historic preservation and honoring cultural heritage,” Secretary Browning comments. “The program has proudly celebrated traditions and what the historic commercial core of Monticello has to offer the community and its visitors.”

Jefferson County, also known as the Keystone County because its borders stretch from the Gulf of Mexico to Georgia, is located approximately 25 miles east of Florida’s capital, Tallahassee. While Florida was still a territory, Jefferson County was established and separated from Leon County in 1827. The county seat was named Monticello after Thomas Jefferson’s home; however, there is a difference in pronunciation. The Florida city is articulated as “mon-ti-sel-oh,” rather than “mon-ti-chel-oh,” as in the name of Jefferson’s home in Virginia. In addition, the County Courthouse, built in 1908, was designed with a Classical Revival style with French influence similar to Jefferson’s home.

Monticello is the only incorporated city in the county. The city has one of the best collections of Antebellum and Victorian era homes and commercial structures in Florida. Visitors can explore historic sites such as the recently restored County Courthouse and the historical 1890 Perkins Opera House. Now known as the Monticello Opera House, it is operated by a self-supporting non-profit corporation and serves as the Civic Center for Jefferson County. The two-story building contains a first floor banquet facility with an acoustical theatre located on the second floor.

A tradition that started over 50 years ago is the annual Watermelon Festival, held the third week of June during the peak of melon season. This popular event commemorates the agricultural history of Jefferson County. Welcoming residents and visitors alike, this county festival marks the time when farmers once produced and processed over 80% of the watermelon seed sold nationally. Although the seed processing industry no longer exists, fresh market watermelons are still grown.

When the Committee of 99, Inc., one of the contributing Main Street redevelopment organizations, focused on a mission to “bring to fruition a renaissance to Monticello and to Jefferson County,” the Florida Main Street Program provided the perfect opportunity. In 1997 the Jefferson County Main Street program was designated. Since then, the community has successfully benefited from 223 public and private investments totaling more than $10 million, while gaining 51 new businesses and 124 new jobs.

Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State. The Bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, and preserving Florida’s historical resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, is an effective strategy for achieving these goals in Florida’s historic retail districts. Since 1985, the Bureau has offered manager training, consultant team visits, design and other technical assistance, as well as the benefit of experience gained by other Florida Main Street Programs.

To learn more about Jefferson County Main Street, visit www.co.jefferson.fl.s or contact Mary Francis Gramling at 850.997.5552 or by e-mail at info.monticellojeffersonfl.com.


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