For Immediate Release
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Contact: Mark Ard
PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Byrd Announces the Designation of Village Improvement Association Hall in the National Register of Historic Places
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced today that Village Improvement Association Hall in Oak Hill, Volusia County, has been recently listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.
“I am pleased to announce that Village Improvement Association Hall has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd. “This octagonal style building is very rare in Florida, and for more than a century, it has served as a gathering place for the community, today serving as a museum.”
Today, Oak Hill is a city of about 2,000 residents located south of New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County. Situated on the mainland bordering the Indian River Lagoon, it developed slowly following construction of Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railroad through the area in the early 1890s. The Village Improvement Association (VIA) Hall was built as the Town Hall for Oak Hill in 1906. VIA Hall is the oldest and only public building for community use in Oak Hill. It is a one-story wood frame octagonal building, with a rectangular wing at the back. In 1915, community members moved the building two-tenths of a mile southeast to its current location on East Halifax Avenue, just east of U.S. Highway 1. The move established the building as the center of town and over time Oak Hill’s commercial district developed around VIA Hall.
Main entrance to VIA Hall, May 26, 2022. Photograph by Andrew Waber, Division of Historical Resources
Both of Oak Hill’s City Charters, created in 1927 and 1962, respectively, were written in the VIA Hall. From the 1920s until 1986, it served as an election polling place. The building served its original purpose until the construction of the current Oak Hill City Hall in 1965. VIA Hall is an excellent example of an octagon building, which were popular during the mid- to late-nineteenth century but uncommon in the southeast. Most octagon buildings are two to three stories, making this one-story octagon building a rare example of the style. VIA Hall retains key defining characteristics including its eight symmetrical sides, windows on each elevation, a front porch, and exposed eaves.
In 2009, the City of Oak Hill received an Environmental Cultural Historical Outdoor (ECHO) Grant to restore the building. Grant-funded work included structural stabilization, restoring interior materials, adding ADA compliant bathrooms, and constructing ADA ramps. The interior of the VIA Hall is intact, including original wood floors, repaired during the restoration project. These updates allow VIA Hall to continue serving the needs of Oak Hill residents. While it no longer serves as Oak Hill’s Town Hall, the building celebrates the community’s history with a museum, and continues to host a variety of events throughout the year.
About The National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is a list maintained by the National Park Service which includes historical or archaeological properties including buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts, that are considered worthy of preservation because of their local, statewide and/or national significance. Nominations for properties in Florida are submitted to the National Park Service through the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. Florida has over 1,700 listings on the National Register, including 295 historic districts and 175 archaeological sites. There are more than 50,000 sites contributing to the National Register in Florida. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation/national-register. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places program administered by the National Park Service, visit nps.gov/nr.
About The Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Historic Preservation
The Bureau of Historic Preservation (BHP) conducts historic preservation programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, preserving, and interpreting the historic and cultural resources of the state. The Bureau manages the Florida Main Street Program, and under federal and state laws, oversees the National Register of Historic Places program for Florida, maintains an inventory of the state's historical resources in the Florida Master Site File, assists applicants in federal tax benefit and local government ad valorem tax relief programs for historic buildings, and reviews the impact that development projects may have on significant historic resources. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation.