Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
May 2009 Program of the Month
Main Street Starke
Secretary of State Announces Florida Main Street Program of the Month
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Main Street Starke has been designated as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for May 2009. Communities are selected for this award based on active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
"Main Street Starke uses their revitalized downtown to engage their community, and works together with citizens and local businesses to achieve their vision," said Secretary Browning.
Home to the "sweetest strawberries this side of heaven," Starke is a small city just 24 miles northeast of Gainesville, with an energetic and committed community determined to enhance and expand their downtown district.
Settlers first began moving to what became Bradford County in the early nineteenth century, and by 1857, the town of Starke had its own post office. The city was named for the first postmaster's fiancée, whose family name was Starke. With the introduction of refrigerated trains, strawberries became Bradford County's main crop and remain Starke's calling card.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's entrance into World War II changed Starke practically overnight. Within months, Camp Blanding, one of the largest troop training centers of the war, brought 20,000 construction workers and 60,000 troops to the small railroad and farming community. In the 1950s, the DuPont corporation began mining heavy minerals in the area, and the Florida State Prison helped extend Starke's economic expansion.
Starke's approach to revitalizing and beautifying its downtown has been successful on many levels. With several early commercial buildings undergoing rehabilitation, Starke's downtown has been fortunate to retain much of its historic and aesthetic charm. This has attracted production company interest in using the town as a setting for Hollywood films such as G.I. Jane, Joel Schumacher's Tigerland, Basic and What's Love Got To Do With It. Constructed in 1902, the Romanesque Revival Old Bradford County Courthouse now serves as the Andrews Center at Santa Fe Community College. The Old Starke Post Office now houses the Sugar Tree Café at street level, and apartments on the second floor.
Since 2005, downtown Starke has benefited from a reinvestment of $16,712,150 in public and private projects. The commercial district has grown, with 27 new businesses, resulting in the creation of 128 new jobs.
Ten years strong, the Starke Main Street Strawberry Festival has been a family event, drawing thousands of participants. Starke Main Street hosts this very popular festival every April in the vibrant downtown district where the surrounding community and visitors gather to enjoy the fun activities, arts, car show and much more. Some festival goers come just to buy large flats of strawberries.
On June 5th and 6th, Starke Main Street will have their 4th Annual Bike Festival along Call Street. This free event includes poker runs and tattoo contests.
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.
To learn more about Main Street Starke, visit www.mainstreetstarke.com or call 904.964.5278.