For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Contact: Chris Cate
Secretary Detzner Designates Kissimmee as Florida Main Street Program of the Month
Recognizes organization’s contribution to preservation and restoration
Tallahassee, Florida –
Secretary of State Ken Detzner today announced Kissimmee Main Street as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for May 2013. The selection for this award is based on the Kissimmee program’s involvement and active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.
"While Kissimmee is a popular destination for thousands of Florida's amusement park visitors, Kissimmee Main Street has successfully preserved the city's unique history and character," said Secretary Detzner. "Downtown Kissimmee is a tremendous complement to the area’s tourist attractions, especially for visitors looking for a friendly and scenic atmosphere to shop and relax."
Kissimmee is a vibrant city of more than 60,000 residents, and is well-known for its amusement parks and outdoor recreation. The city, incorporated in 1883, is also home to a thriving historic downtown that includes many pedestrian shopping areas, rehabilitated original buildings and numerous community events and celebrations.
Originally named Cow Town, Kissimmee once boasted the nation's only grass-covered streets. Once the Spanish and most Native Americans left the area, the late 19th century pioneers in central Florida found the Kissimmee River valley overrun with "swamp cows." With events like the "Kowtown Festival," Kissimmee Main Street, along with the Downtown Kissimmee Area Council and the Osceola County Historical Society, has embraced the community's rich 124-year history and heritage as an agricultural and ranching center.
In addition to its emerging role as Florida's cattle capital, the city became a shipbuilding hub when developer Hamilton Disston dredged the Kissimmee River and established his office in Kissimmee in the late 1800s. For the next forty years, steamboats chugged from Lake "Toho" (Tohopekaliga) and downtown Kissimmee, to the Gulf of Mexico, and on to ports around the nation and Cuba. When the Dixie Highway opened in 1916, linking Florida with the rest of the nation, it marked the end of Kissimmee's steamboat shipping trade, the beginning of sprawl development, and the eventual dormancy then rebirth of downtown.
Since its designation as a Main Street community in 1997, Kissimmee has had 425 construction and rehabilitation projects totaling nearly $33 million. More than 285 businesses have opened, creating 721 new jobs downtown. Volunteers have donated 13,960 hours of their time to meetings and events. Kissimmee Main Street also continues its close partnership with the Community Redevelopment Agency to facilitate both the preservation and revitalization of the historic downtown.
To learn more about Kissimmee Main Street contact Brianne Stefek at 407.846.4643.
About Florida Main Street
Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, managed by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. 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.