Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
June 2008 Program of the Month
Newberry Main Street
Secretary of State Announces Newberry Main Street as Florida Main Street Program of the MonthSecretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Newberry Main Street has been named the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for June 2008. Communities are selected for this award based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program. A community of just over 3,500 residents, Newberry is one of two active Main Street programs in Alachua County. Designated just two years ago in 2006, Newberry Main Street has already benefited from 122 total public and private reinvestments totaling over $30 million, attracting 23 new businesses, and creating 53 new jobs.
"Newberry Main Street has proven that historic preservation is an achievable goal for small towns and communities,” said Secretary Browning. “With so many of Florida’s historical resources located in small towns like Newberry, the Florida Main Street Program has worked to identify and assist these communities in preserving their historical, cultural, and architectural heritage."
Settlers came to the area following the discovery of a tract of hard rock phosphate in the 1880s. The town of Newberry was incorporated in 1895. Mining companies and workers flocked to the area to cash in on the boom, which grew with the 1890s extension of the Savannah, Florida and Western Railroad and the Jacksonville and Southwestern Railroad. By the turn of the 20th century, Newberry’s 14 active phosphate mines had attracted 1,500 miners. According to one local doctor who treated a sizeable number of bullet wounds when the miners came to Newberry on the weekends, they created “a real wild west town in the east.”
Phosphate production ceased abruptly in 1917 when the United States entered World War I. Trade restrictions against Germany, the primary importer of American phosphate, effectively ended phosphate mining in Florida. Newberry’s population dwindled, and many of the remaining residents became farmers. Watermelon became the city’s chief agricultural cash crop. Beginning in 1946, the town’s annual Watermelon Festival takes place each June. Today, Newberry remains a stable, small community, close enough to enjoy the nearby cultural attractions of Gainesville, while retaining its rural character.
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. More than 90 communities across the state have received historic preservation and downtown revitalization assistance from Florida Main Street since the program was initiated by the Department of State in 1985.
Statistics provided by local Main Street programs reflect the positive change that has occurred in local program areas over the past 23 years. Public and private reinvestment in local program areas has exceeded $1.8 billion. New construction and rehabilitation projects (many projects involving historic buildings) total more than 12,800. In addition, there have been more than 9,000 business starts and expansions, and more than 14,000 new jobs created.
To learn more about Newberry Main Street, contact Lowell Garrett at 352.472.3927 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.