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Arcadia Main Street Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

seal of florida

Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
October 09, 2009

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

Arcadia Main Street Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Arcadia Main Street has been named the Florida Main Street Community of the Month for October 2009. Selection for this award is based on a record of active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.

“Arcadia Main Street has worked since the 1980s to improve and revitalize the city’s historic downtown,” said Secretary Browning. “As one of Florida’s earliest local programs, it provides an excellent example of how a strong commitment to the principles of the Florida Main Street Program can rejuvenate our state’s traditional commercial districts.”

Arcadia has been the seat of DeSoto County government since 1888. It began as a small settlement overlooking the Peace River and grew quickly in the 1870s, as the railroad brought new people and wealth to the community. In an area dominated by the cattle ranching industry, Arcadia was known as one of the wildest towns on the Florida frontier during the infamous cattle wars of the 1890s. By the early twentieth century, however, it boasted a thriving downtown business district.

After a devastating Thanksgiving Day fire destroyed most of the downtown district in 1905, the citizens of Arcadia quickly began rebuilding. Many of the historic buildings constructed after the fire can still be found in Arcadia Main Street’s program area, which is included within a larger 65-square block National Register Historic District.

Arcadia Main Street’s efforts have contributed to a significant turnaround in downtown Arcadia, which today is home to over thirty antique and specialty shops, restaurants, and professional businesses. Arcadia Main Street also organizes three major annual events that bring both local citizens and visitors into the historic area—the Watermelon Festival, the “Old Fashioned” Fall Festival, and the Holiday Tour of Homes of Historic Arcadia.

Arcadia is home to the popular All-Florida Championship Rodeo. This historic rodeo began its life in 1928 as an opportunity for Florida’s cowboys and ranchers to match their skills against each other for the entertainment of the local audience. Today, it has evolved into a national sporting event that draws top cowboy athletes and rodeo fans from around the nation to Arcadia.

Arcadia received its official designation as a Florida Main Street program in 1986. Although the program was dormant for several years in the 1990s and early 2000s, Arcadia Main Street returned to active program status in 2005. As an active Florida Main Street program, Arcadia has seen community benefits from reinvestment of over $4.6 million in public and private funds toward downtown revitalization and rehabilitation. Arcadia has also gained a net of 37 new businesses and 86 new jobs. In addition to its continuing efforts to recruit new businesses and preserve the historic character of downtown, Arcadia Main Street strives to make downtown a fun and interesting place to visit and a focal point for the entire community.

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 historic 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 Arcadia Main Street, contact Susan Swanson by phone at 863.457.3126 or e-mail arcadiamainstreet@yahoo.com.


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