Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
May 2007 Community of the Month
High Springs Main Street
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning Announces Florida Main Street Community of the Month"High Springs is dedicated to preserving its small town charm in the face of growing sprawl," said Secretary Browning. "In two short years, with the commitment and diligent efforts of local citizens, High Springs has reaped the benefits of participating in our Florida Main Street Program."
Communities are selected as Florida Main Street Community of the Month based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program. High Springs, which was designated a Florida Main Street Community in 2005, is a small community in Alachua County along the Santa Fe River, about 20 miles from Gainesville.
A more recent participant in the Florida Main Street Program, High Springs has quickly made great strides in improving its downtown. A new festival, the High Springs First Annual Bikefest, was held on May 20, 2006. The one-day event raised net profits of $5,000 and was attended by approximately 5,500 people--a major success for a town with a population of only 4,000. High Springs Main Street worked with the City of High Springs to purchase new street lamps and benches that were installed in December before Christmas events began. A recent Pioneer Days event brought hundreds of people to the downtown.
In 1884, the Savannah, Florida & Western Railroad brought the railroad through what would become High Springs and built a depot station. That same year, a post office was built and the town called Santaffey (Santa Fe) began to grow. Once phosphate was found in the area, the railroad expanded its service and the town developed. In 1888 the town was renamed High Springs. Businesses opened during this time included general stores, an opera house, hotels and restaurants. Tobacco and peanut farms were established around the community. In 1928, the High Springs Herald began publishing and is still in print today. With the closing of the phosphate mines and changes in railroad service after the end of World War II, development in High Springs began to decline.
Today High Springs is an eco-tourism destination. Railroads have been turned into trails and some of the area's natural resources have been incorporated into the local state parks. Cyclists from around the state travel to High Springs to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Fresh water springs attract scuba divers daring to explore the area's underwater cave system. The downtown is filled with small shops such as antique stores and galleries. An active community theatre provides live entertainment and serves as a live music venue.
Since becoming a Florida Main Street community, High Springs has seen eight private building rehabilitations totaling $126,500; one public building rehabilitation totaling $25,000; six new businesses opened; 23 new jobs and 1,572 volunteer hours.
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.