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Newberry Main Street Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

seal of florida

Florida Department of State
Dawn K. Roberts
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
November 05, 2010

Joan Jefferson

Newberry Main Street Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Interim Secretary of State Dawn K. Roberts announced today that Newberry Main Street has been designated the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for November 2010. Selection for this award is based on a record of active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.

“Newberry Main Street has proven that historic preservation is an achievable goal for small towns and communities,” said Secretary Roberts.  “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. Begun 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.

Since its designation as a Florida Main Street Community in 2006, Newberry’s downtown has benefited from 162 public and private reinvestments, totaling more than $39 million. In addition, 37 businesses have opened, 108 new jobs have been created, and volunteers have donated over 4,800 hours of their time to meetings and events.

Statistics provided by Florida Main Street programs reflect the positive change that has occurred in local program areas over the past 25 years. Public and private reinvestment in local program areas has exceeded $2.1 billion. New construction and rehabilitation projects (many projects involving historic buildings) total more than 13,900. In addition, there have been 5,756 business starts and expansions, creating more than 18,000 new jobs.

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 historical 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 Newberry Main Street, visit the organization’s website at www.newberrymainstreet.org or contact Barbara Hendrix at 352.472.2112 or contact by e-mail at barbara.nms@gmail.com

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