Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
April 2010 Program of the Month
Venice Main Street
Venice Main Street Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Venice Main Street has been designated the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for April 2010. Selection for this award is based on a record of active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
"Since its founding, the City of Venice has been a model for architecture and urban design in Florida," remarked Secretary Browning. "I commend Venice Main Street in its effort to preserve the rich history of the city and its historical resources."
By the earliest known historical record, Venice was originally inhabited roughly 12,000 years ago by Paleo-Indian ancestors of the Calusa Indians, who occupied most of the southwestern coast of Florida. American settlement of the area began in the latter half of the 19th century, when southbound pioneers began to establish citrus groves and farms. By the 1890s, a handful of landowners in the Venice area had improved several hundred acres to the south and east of Roberts Bay, which was named for one of the area's first settlers, Richard Roberts. Before 1900, the principal agricultural outputs of the area were citrus and sugarcane.
In the early 1900s, a wealthy businesswoman from Chicago, Bertha Honore Palmer, acquired roughly 60,000 acres of land in the Venice area. Speculation that Venice would soon be developed into a residential community was growing, fueled by Palmer's efforts to have a rail line extended to the area, which was completed in 1911. Soon after, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers bought 30,000 acres of this land with the intent to develop and market a coastal community. The Brotherhood hired John Nolen, a renowned urban planner and landscape architect who had studied under Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. at the Harvard School of Landscape Architecture, to design a plan for the development of Venice. Venice was incorporated in 1927, right after the 1926 crash of the Florida land boom, but the local economy was bolstered in the 1940s with the establishment of military facilities in the area. The city's population exploded from 863 in 1950 to over 27,000 in 1962, spurred by post-World War II development and the arrival of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus as annual winter residents in 1960.
Today, Venice is still characterized by the lush landscaping and functional urban design that was part of John Nolen's original development plan. The Venice Train Depot, built in 1927 by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers to replace the original depot made of pine poles and a thatch roof, still exists and is active.
Since designation in 1989, Venice Main Street's program area has seen 196 public and private revitalization projects worth a total value of nearly $214.5 million. During the same period, downtown has experienced a net increase of 183 new businesses in its district, creating 442 jobs. In addition, local residents have dedicated over 7,200 volunteer hours to Venice Main Street's revitalization efforts.
To learn more about Venice Main Street, contact Janis Fawn by phone at 941.484.6722 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.