Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
December 2007 Community of the Month
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning Announces Florida Main Street Community of the MonthSecretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that MainStreet DeLand has been designated the Florida Main Street Community of the Month for December 2007. Communities are selected based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
"DeLand has been awarded state and national honors for its remarkable success as part of the Florida Main Street Program, and serves as a great example of the tremendous impact downtown revitalization can have on a community,” said Secretary Browning. “With marquee events such as the Fall Festival of the Arts and the continued growth of local businesses, DeLand demonstrates how valuable cultural and historical assets are to our state."
DeLand was the first Florida Main Street community designated in 1985, and is the only Florida city recognized with the Great American Main Street Award, which it received in 1997. In the past 22 years, commercial occupancy of downtown DeLand has increased from 40% to 98%. As a Florida Main Street Community, downtown DeLand has benefited from more then $103 million in private and public reinvestment, a net gain of 99 businesses and 482 new jobs, and 19,000 volunteer hours. MainStreet DeLand has received numerous Secretary of State Florida Main Street Awards for its successful programs and events.
After visiting the small community of Persimmon Hollow along the St. Johns River, Henry Addison DeLand decided to settle his affairs in New York and make central Florida his home in 1876. The baking soda magnate donated money to other settlers founding churches and schools. He encouraged friends from New York to join in the civic venture and was instrumental in establishing the town as the center of local commerce and community. In recognition of DeLand’s contributions, the citizens renamed the town in his honor upon incorporation in 1882. Today, the thriving city of 23,000 people is filled with local shops and historic character just minutes away from the tourist destinations of Daytona Beach and Orlando.
One of DeLand’s friends, New York hat baron John B. Stetson, founded the DeLand Academy, which was later renamed Stetson University. Today, the scenic and historic campus just north of downtown is home to the oldest private university in Florida. Stetson University campus and Downtown DeLand Historic District are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. MainStreet DeLand also supported the restoration of the historic Volusia County Courthouse, construction of the new Justice Center, the retention of the Post Office in the downtown core, and the creation of the City of Deland Municipal Complex.
MainStreet Deland’s mural program has brought numerous large-scale works of art to downtown. Begun in 1996 and funded by an array of private donations, the murals depict scenes from the region’s history. The city of DeLand is home to the Museum of Florida Arts (previously the DeLand Museum of Art) and has positioned itself as a regional cultural center. The 15th DeLand Fall Festival of the Artists, held this year, featured more than 200 premier artists from around the country and welcomed an estimated crowd of 40,000.
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.