Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
July 2008 Program of the Month
Melbourne Main Street
Secretary of State Names Melbourne Florida Main Street Community of the MonthSecretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Melbourne Main Street has been designated the Florida Main Street Community of the Month for July 2008. Communities are selected for this award based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
“Melbourne Main Street has stood by its mission to preserve the historical essence of the community and to continuously promote a strong development program,” Secretary Browning remarked. “Melbourne has proven that downtowns can return to a state of thriving growth and sustainability.”
The Florida Main Street Program designated Melbourne a Main Street Community in 2002. Since then, Melbourne has successfully benefited from 70 public and private investments which total well over $7 million, while gaining 52 new businesses and 286 new jobs.
The historic and scenic city of Melbourne lies along Florida’s dynamic Space Coast, spanning the Indian River Lagoon between the mainland and the barrier island. Home to such high-tech companies as Harris Corp., Northrop Grumman, Intersil Corporation, Rockwell Collins, and the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne is a hub for high-tech industry in the southeastern U.S. With a growing population of over 76,000, Melbourne ensures that the city remains attractive to existing and new residents and businesses with economic revitalization efforts.
On December 22, 1888, the small seaside community of Crane Creek became the Village of Melbourne by voice vote of its residents. With an easily accessible port, fresh water and fertile soil, Melbourne presented great opportunities to settlers after the Civil War. Peter Wright, the legendary “sailing mailman,” was an African-American freedman who regularly delivered mail by boat from Titusville to Malabar. He is still celebrated by the town today. Crane Creek and Eau Gallie, the communities that came to comprise the city of Melbourne, were first inhabited by settlers taking advantage of the combination of fresh water from the Indian River and proximity to ocean traffic. Ships such as the steamboat “Rockledge” ferried passengers and goods to the piers that stretched their welcoming arms from the still wild coast into the lagoon.
The character of the city began to change after the railroad arrived in 1893. In 1919, nearly all of the original downtown was destroyed by fire when a kerosene lamp was hurled from a boarding house window. Two years later a bridge was built across the river and the economic rebirth of the city began. The Melbourne Air Station, established in 1942, was the training ground for more than 2,000 fighter pilots during World War II. More than 65 men died at the station while preparing for service overseas.
Since downtown revitalization and beautification began in earnest in the early 1980s, Melbourne has successfully made the downtown area a center for community activities. On the second Friday of every month, Melbourne Main Street hosts Friday Fest. This family-centered celebration of downtown includes arts and crafts, plenty of great food, beer and wine, a children’s activity area, and free admission and parking. Many downtown shops stay open for what has become a monthly neighborhood street party. Every Tuesday from November through April, the Historic Downtown Melbourne Farmers’ Market, at the corner of Depot Road and East New Haven Avenue, features fresh Florida produce, crafts and music.
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 Melbourne Main Street, contact program manager Laird Gann by phone at 321.724.1741 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org