Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
July 2009 Program of the Month
Main Street Wauchula
Main Street Wauchula Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning has announced that Main Street Wauchula has been designated as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for July 2009. Selection for this award is based on an accumulation of active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
It is well documented that Main Street Programs cannot survive and thrive without the support of the community. With the combined efforts of local government, residents, and merchants, any town can witness a new level of vitality in a place called home.
"Main Street Wauchula recognizes the positive impact they can make by bringing people together and stimulating their local economy," said Secretary Browning. "This outstanding Florida Main Street Program continues to honor historic preservation principles and promote community involvement."
The history of Wauchula began in the 1840s during the Seminole Wars, when military forts were established to protect early settlers. As more families began to settle, they were deeded property under the Homestead Act.
Farmed vegetables and citrus were popular agricultural resources, but the cattle ranching industry proved to be the most profitable of all. In the twentieth century, the largest area of open-range ranching in the United States was in the peninsula of Florida. Many cowboys were needed to manage the herds of cows. These cowboys were the original "Crackers," named for the cracking whips used to handle cattle.
In 1886, the Florida Southern Railway laid tracks and established a railway depot in the area – the depot still exists today. This railroad company gave the town the name of "Wauchula," derived from the Miccosukee Indian word Wa-tu-la-ha-kee, meaning "call of the Sandhill crane." Wauchula grew rapidly as stores opened and the phosphate industry flourished. In 1902, the town was incorporated. The town is now the seat of Hardee County.
Wauchula was selected as a viable place to initiate a Florida Main Street Program that would enhance the downtown business district. Since its designation in 1995, the Main Street Wauchula community has benefited from reinvestment of nearly $13 million in public and private projects. In addition, the commercial district has grown, with 50 new businesses resulting in the creation of 156 new jobs. Among fairly recent projects, a streetscape plan was completed on 7th and 8th avenues of downtown. It included sidewalk replacement, integrated irrigation and the installation of a sound system.
Main Street Wauchula engages the community with popular events such as "Grillin' & Chillin'" and "Friday Night Live." On the third Friday of each month, from 5 – 9 p.m., live entertainment and games are provided downtown. Themes for the event vary each month. During the past three months, average attendance has been 700. Businesses and other non-profit organizations are actively involved in supporting family activities during the events.
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 Wauchula, contact Jessica Newman at 863.767.0330 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.