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Contact: Chris Cate

Secretary Detzner Designates Vilano Beachas Florida Main Street Program of the Month

Recognizes organization’s contribution to preservation and restoration

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner today announced Vilano Beach Main Street as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for July 2012. The selection for this award is based on the Vilano Beach program’s involvement and active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.

"Vilano Beach Main Street is an active and hard-working organization that continues to strengthen its community," said Secretary Detzner. "Their efforts to develop the Vilano Beach Town Center have resulted in great success and been an inspiration to all main street communities working on long term projects."

Vilano Beach is located on the coastal barrier island immediately north of the St. Augustine inlet in St. John’s County. The Vilano Beach Town Center has been an important part of the community since the 1920s. This commercial area was originally planned for tourists who made day trips to Vilano for oyster roasts, beach parties and dances. Visitors traveled from St. Augustine by ferry, steam train, or yacht in the late 19th century. They were transported across the island to Surfside Beach by horse drawn trolley. Tourists and residents alike enjoyed recreational activities such as restaurants, bowling alleys and a tropical garden.

During the Florida land boom of the 1920s, two grid pattern lot developments were platted on the southern end of the Barrier Island. One was named Vilano Beach and the other was called Surfside. Most of these lots were not built on until after WWII. After a bridge was built in the late 1920s, tourist traffic flowed through Vilano Road. State Road A1A would eventually be carved into the landscape by mules in the 1930s. The road remained unpaved for decades. In 1939, the North Shores Improvement Association was formed to cope with beach erosion, flooding and drainage problems and community improvement. They worked to install street lights and street signs and made sure that mail service was available to all residents.

Over the years, Vilano Beach residents have continued to invest in their future by honoring their heritage. In their eight years as a main street community, they have worked to build new docks and pavilions. They have also put forth great effort to establish the new Vilano Beach Town Center, a primary retail location which attracts both locals and tourists.

The Florida Main Street Program designated Vilano Beach as a Main Street Community in 2003. As a Florida Main Street Community, Vilano Beach has attracted a net gain of 13 new businesses and 115 jobs, as well as investments totaling nearly $41 million dollars in 21 public and private construction projects. Dedicated community members have contributed nearly 20,000 volunteer hours in their Main Street Program.

To learn more about Vilano Beach Main Street, contact program manager, Sallie O’Hara by phone at 904.540.0402 or email at [email protected].

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.