Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee announced today that Main Street Winter Haven has been designated the May 2019 Florida Main Street Program of the Month. Programs are selected based on their development achievements and participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
“Main Street Winter Haven is constantly innovating and coming up with new ideas to engage their community,” said Secretary Lee. “I am so impressed with their dedication to the economic development of their downtown and preservation of their most treasured historic resources.”
Historic Downtown Winter Haven, located in Central Florida, is known for its canal linked Chain of Lakes and its vibrant downtown area. Before being named Winter Haven it was known as Harris Corners, in honor of F.A.K. Harris who opened the downtown’s first mercantile store. The formal name “Winter Haven” was chosen in 1885 based on the city’s warm climate during the winter.
By 1911, Winter Haven became an incorporated city and construction on the Chain of Lakes canals began shortly after in 1915. The Chain of Lakes canals are one of Winter Haven’s most notable features connecting a northern chain of 10 lakes and a southern chain of 16 lakes. Along these lakes were thousands of acres of citrus groves, which helped to expand the booming citrus industry.
Winter Haven’s downtown revitalization efforts began in 1995 when Downtown Winter Haven became a designated Main Street community. Their mission is to develop and preserve the economic, cultural and historic qualities that make downtown the heart of their community. Since their designation, Main Street Winter Haven has successfully carried out their mission by bringing people, jobs and businesses back to the downtown area through incentives such as façade grant programs. In addition, much of the downtown became a National Register Historic District in 2002, helping to honor and preserve the historic integrity of the district.
Main Street Winter Haven Board President Alex Santiago said, “I’m a firm believer that what makes our Main Street Program so successful is the partnership and buy-in from our community partners. The engagement from our stakeholders helps us to make sure we are growing and progressing in a way that complements our downtown’s authenticity.”
Main Street Winter Haven is currently working with the City of Winter Haven to create a healthy downtown urban forest through their Carl J. Strang Jr. Urban Tree Canopy Fund that will be funded through community donations. Contributions to the fund will support their efforts and also give donors the ability to acknowledge a loved one or special event and leave a lasting gift to the community.
“Main Street Winter Haven hosts a variety of community events intended to draw people to the heart of our city, the Downtown Historic District. Most notably, the Secretary of State Award of Honor was awarded for CityWorks(X)po in 2017,” said Main Street Winter Haven Executive Director Anita Strang. “(X)po is a two-day, festival style conference focused on connectivity between people, places and the projects that inspire them to build better communities.” This event takes place in April of every year.
For more information about Main Street Winter Haven, visit mainstreetwh.com or facebook.com/MainStreetWinterHaven. For more information on the Florida Main Street program visit floridamainstreet.com or facebook.com/FloridaMainStreet.
About Florida Main Street
Florida Main Street is a program administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, which currently oversees 46 communities throughout the state. By implementing the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach®, Florida Main Street encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation through the revitalization of Florida’s downtowns – the community’s heart and soul.