Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
August 2009 Program of the Month
Main Street Fort Pierce
Main Street Fort Pierce Designated Florida Main Street Program for August 2009
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Main Street Fort Pierce has been named the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for August 2009. Selection for this award is based on a record of active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
This community has been bolstered by extraordinary benefits spurred by economic development, revitalization and historic preservation. Main Street Fort Pierce was one of the first Florida Main Street Programs designated in 1988. In over 20 years, there has been reinvestment of nearly $170 million in public and private projects, and the commercial district has grown with 94 new businesses, resulting in the creation of over 400 new jobs.
“The successful longevity and impact of Main Street Fort Pierce reinforces the importance of downtown revitalization,” said Secretary Browning. “It is a testament to a promising future for local communities.”
Fort Pierce was originally the site of a United States military outpost during the Second Seminole War. Although the fort itself was abandoned at the end of the war in 1842, settlers began moving to the area in the late 19th century. The City of Fort Pierce was incorporated in 1901, in what was then Brevard County. A coastal community, Fort Pierce’s early economy was largely driven by the fishing industry, but citrus and cattle farming soon became lucrative in the area. The city enjoyed an era of prosperity shortly after railroads reached the city limits, bringing new residents and allowing the export of commodities. St. Lucie County was created out of Brevard County in 1905 to include Fort Pierce and nearby towns. The area had been referred to as “Santa Lucia” as early as the late 1500s, during the period of Spanish occupation.
Today, Fort Pierce is served by the Florida Turnpike, Interstate 95, and the Atlantic Ocean and remains a key economic and transportation hub for South Florida. Modern educational and research facilities serving the area include Indian River Community College, the $6 million Smithsonian Institution Research Center, and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.
Main Street Fort Pierce has administered many successful projects, including the restoration of the historic A.E. Backus House; the complete renovation of the 1925 City Hall; construction of the Manatee Observation and Education Center; and restoration of the Sunrise Theatre, a performing arts center.
Main Street Fort Pierce worked with the city to acquire grant funding for façade projects and restoration of the historic “Tickle Tummy Hill” bridge. Partnerships also provide more resources for development such as construction of a library with St. Lucie County and downtown murals with the St. Lucie Mural Society.
Throughout the years, the focused mission of Main Street Fort Pierce has contributed to its many great accomplishments. Continual investment into the downtown keeps Fort Pierce alive, growing and thriving. Meanwhile, the town’s hometown feel continues to resonate within the community, giving residents a place of pride.
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 Fort Pierce, contact Doris Tillman at 772.466.3880 or visit the organization’s Web site at www.mainstreetfortpierce.org