Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
August 2007 Community of the Month
Melbourne Main Street
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning Announces 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 August 2007. Communities are selected based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program. Melbourne was designated a Florida Main Street Community in 2003.
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 Corp. and 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 is engaged in economic revitalization efforts, ensuring that the city remains attractive to existing and new residents and businesses.
"Melbourne exemplifies the blend of historic and modern that makes Florida so special,” said Secretary Browning. “While serving as a home to cutting-edge technology industries, Melbourne retains its coastal beauty and unique charm, qualities that have attracted visitors and new residents to our state for more than a century."
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 Farmer’s Market, at the corner of Depot Road and East New Haven Avenue, features fresh Florida produce, crafts and music.
This fall, Melbourne Main Street is staging the Main Street Masters of Art, October 20-21, with selectively chosen artists and distinguished jurists, as well as a wine-tasting, fine food from local restaurants, jazz, and a variety of the local high-end merchants.
In 2005, Melbourne Main Street was recognized for its efforts with the Secretary of State's Honor Award for Outstanding Public Improvement. Melbourne Main Street has just recently initiated a $1.9 million streetscaping project that will help visually connect the west and east ends of the central business corridor. In just over four years, Melbourne Main Street has recorded 49 public and private construction, rehabilitation and infrastructure projects totaling over $4.3 million; seen a net gain of 50 new businesses and 224 new employees; and a total of over 11,000 hours of volunteer time contributed for meetings, special projects, and event.
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning Announces Florida Main Street Community of the Month