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Main Street Milton Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

seal of florida

Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
February 02, 2010

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

Main Street Milton Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Main Street Milton has been named the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for February 2010. Selection for this award is based on a record of active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.

"Milton is one of Florida’s oldest incorporated communities," said Secretary Browning, "Main Street Milton is to be congratulated for its enthusiastic commitment to preserving the community’s heritage and historical character."

Milton was designated the county seat of Santa Rosa County even before its incorporation in 1844. Its history can be traced to the 1820s, when people began to settle in Milton’s present location along the Blackwater River. In its formative years, the area was known by several colloquial names, including "Mill-town," "Scottsman’s Anchorage," and "Scratch Ankle" (for the itch-causing briars that once grew along the banks of the Blackwater River). Milton’s importance to developing areas of North Florida in the 19th century cannot be overstated – it served as one of the Southeast’s foremost regional shipping hubs for lumber, brick, and shipbuilding materials. After a major commercial and industrial setback during the Civil War, Milton began to flourish again in the late 1800s with the proliferation of rail lines through the area. Milton’s economy began to diversify with the gradual clearing of timber forests and the increased agricultural opportunities provided by access to rail-based shipping. Residents soon found success growing and exporting cotton and peanuts from the area in addition to continued timber and lumber production. The city’s economy thrived between the end of the Civil War and the onset of the Great Depression. By the end of the 1930s, the city’s shipyard and sawmill had both closed, crippling the local economic base. However, U.S. Naval Air Station Whiting Field was established in Milton in 1943, effectively reviving commercial activity in the area.

Main Street Milton was designated in 2000 to promote the preservation of the area’s historical resources and small-town character. Since its designation, it has earned several Secretary of State Main Street Awards, including two in 2001 – just a year after it joined the statewide program. The announcement of Main Street Milton as the Program of the Month for February 2010 comes just over a year after a downtown fire which nearly destroyed the city’s historic Imogene Theatre on January 7, 2009. A cornerstone of the city’s historic downtown, the theatre sustained significant damage, but is currently being restored by its owner, the Santa Rosa Historical Society, and is expected to reopen sometime in 2011.

Since designation in 2000, Main Street Milton’s program area has seen 56 public and private revitalization projects worth a total value of nearly $2.5 million. During the same period, downtown has experienced a net increase of 34 new businesses in its district, creating 123 jobs. In addition, local residents have dedicated over 12,800 volunteer hours to Main Street Milton’s revitalization efforts.

To learn more about Main Street Milton, contact Serene Keiek by phone at 850.626.6246 or e-mail mainstreetmilton@bellsouth.net.


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