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Contact: Mark Ard
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PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Byrd Designates Main Street Wauchula, Inc., as Florida Main Street Program of the Month


Today, Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced that Main Street Wauchula, Inc., in Hardee County, has been designated the June 2024 Florida Main Street Program of the Month.

“Main Street Wauchula, Inc., has proven effective in bringing life back to their historic downtown,” said Secretary Byrd. “Congratulations to the community for its vision, planning, and successful implementation of projects exemplifying the core principals of the Main Street approach to economic development and historic preservation.”

Incorporated in June 1888, Wauchula grew in relation to the rise and fall of the agriculture and cattle industries in Central Florida. It became the seat of Hardee County following the partition of DeSoto County in 1921. Several prominent Floridians hail from Wauchula, including Doyle E. Carlton, the state’s 25th governor. Other notable residents include architect Howard Solomon, who in the 1970s built an Alamo replica, a 16th century galleon, and “Solomon’s Castle,” a structure created from aluminum newspaper plates.

In recent years, Wauchula has diversified its economy beyond agriculture, welcoming new industries, businesses, and eco-tourism venues that reflect the changing needs of its residents and visitors. Efforts to revitalize Main Street and downtown areas have breathed new life into the community, fostering a culture of supporting small businesses and serving as a space for community gatherings. Investments in infrastructure and technology have positioned Wauchula for continued growth and prosperity in the digital age, ensuring that it remains a dynamic and thriving contributor to the regional economy.

Photographs provided by Main Street Wauchula, Inc., and Kram Kran Photo

In the early 2000s, community leaders and stakeholders came together with a shared vision of revitalizing downtown Wauchula. Designated as a Main Street program in 1995, Main Street Wauchula, Inc., embarked on a mission to preserve the town's historic character, while stimulating economic development and fostering community engagement. Through strategic initiatives focusing on organization, promotion, design, and economic vitality, Main Street Wauchula, Inc., has played a pivotal role in the town's resurgence, spearheading efforts to restore historic buildings, attract new businesses, and promote downtown events and attractions. These efforts culminated in 2018 when Wauchula’s Historic Downtown District was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Signature projects undertaken by Main Street Wauchula, Inc., include the creation of Heritage Park, hanging plants on businesses and light poles in downtown, window decorating contests, and seasonal banners. Events, such as the Student Business Fair, Wildcat Tailgate, and Hometown Christmas, drive business downtown while creating an appreciation for community. Main Street Wauchula, Inc., also created Shop Small Saturday to strengthen downtown businesses and established a façade grants program.

Main Street Wauchula, Inc., was instrumental in the revitalization efforts currently underway to reactivate the long-dormant Historic City Hall Auditorium as a performing arts space to generate foot traffic downtown. Key efforts included coordinating with the League of Historic Theaters for an evaluation, partnering with the Florida Humanities Council to host two of their Dreamers and Schemers programs, showing movies in the venue with a portable projector, moving their historic ghost tour “check-in” and first tour stop inside the venue, and soliciting a sponsor to help fund seat cushions for the 400 original wooden seats. These efforts garnered support and interest from the public that resulted in the Hardee County Players, a local theater group, reactivating and using the space for productions. The project has also received a $300,000 grant from The Mosaic Company for an upgraded audio-visual system (including projection), and a Historic Preservation Special Category Grant to fund window restoration, ceiling restoration, and ADA accessibility to the stage and backstage area. Main Street Wauchula, Inc., is proud to have been part of this important downtown project from the beginning.

Since 1995, Main Street Wauchula has reported approximately $19,458,390 in public and private reinvestments, added 99 new businesses and 398 full-time and part-time jobs to the district. The organization has also reported 43,633 volunteer hours.

Jessica Newman, Executive Director of Main Street Wauchula, Inc., recalls the accomplishments of the program with pride, but acknowledges future needs. “Main Street Wauchula, Inc., is a testament to the power of community-driven revitalization,” says Director Newman. “When our program started, there was not any street scape or a place for the community to gather. There were blocks of vacant buildings and a real need for change. Today, we only have one vacant building that is not renovated or in the process of being renovated. We have street scape, a well-manicured park, outdoor dining, and a full roster of events! However, we still have room for growth. I want downtown Wauchula to become a destination for dining and shopping. I want our citizens to have a heart for small businesses and shopping local. Together, we will reach these goals! Main Street Wauchula, Inc., has a great opportunity to connect our eco-tourism treasures, like the Peace River, with our downtown. Come visit us and see what all the talk is about!”

For more information on Main Street Wauchula, visit or follow on Facebook

To learn more about the Florida Main Street program, visit or follow on Facebook and Instagram.



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 54 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.