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Main Street Fort Pierce Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

seal of florida

Florida Department of State
Dawn K. Roberts
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
July 01, 2010

Joan Jefferson

Main Street Fort Pierce Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

Interim Secretary of State Dawn K. Roberts announced today that Main Street Fort Pierce has been designated the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for August 2010. Selection for this award is based on a record of active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.

"Main Street Fort Pierce has consistently demonstrated an exemplary commitment to downtown revitalization and historic preservation," Secretary Roberts observed. "This organization has continually been an essential component of Florida's statewide preservation effort. We are proud to make this designation."

The Fort Pierce area was inhabited by Spanish explorers as early as the mid-16th century. At that time, the Spanish called the area "Santa Lucia," which is generally regarded as the etymological origin of St. Lucie County. St. Lucie County was created from Brevard County in 1905, with Fort Pierce as the designated county seat. Fort Pierce itself was originally the site of a military outpost utilized chiefly during the Second Seminole War. Though the fort fell into disuse after the war ended, some buildings remained and sustained a small population for several decades. Coinciding with the southward development of Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway, settlers began repopulating the Fort Pierce area in the 1890s, and the city was incorporated in 1901. Like many other early Florida cities, Fort Pierce depended largely on fishing until the railroad facilitated the shipment of cattle products and citrus to other areas of the state.

Today, the Fort Pierce area is supported mainly by retail/wholesale, health care, and service-sector economic anchors. However, educational and research facilities have recently begun to locate in Fort Pierce, including Indian River State College (which began offering four-year degrees in 2007), the $6 million Smithsonian Institution Research Center, and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. A substantial inventory of historic structures still exists in Fort Pierce, many of which are still occupied by businesses and residents.

Main Street Fort Pierce has successfully contributed to the preservation and restoration of a number of historic structures since its inception in 1988. Among its most notable recent accomplishments, the organization has participated in the restoration of the historic City Hall, which was built in 1925; the A.E. "Beanie" Backus House; and the Sunrise Theater. The organization's fundraising efforts are anchored by a series of signature events, including a monthly Friday Fest and the annual Sandy Shoes Festival and Sights and Sounds on Second. In 2010, Main Street Fort Pierce was selected by the National Trust Main Street Center as one of 10 nationwide finalists for the Great American Main Street Award.

Since designation in 1988, Main Street Fort Pierce's program area has seen 158 public and private revitalization projects worth a total value of nearly $173 million. During the same period, the community has benefited from a net increase of 96 new businesses in the program area, producing 449 new jobs. Local residents have dedicated over 36,600 volunteer hours to Main Street Fort Pierce's revitalization efforts.

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