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Contact: Mark Ard
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PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Byrd Designates St. Cloud Main Street as Florida Main Street Program of the Month

Tallahassee, Fla. –

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. — Today, Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced that St. Cloud Main Street, located in Osceola County, has been designated the March 2024 Florida Main Street Program of the Month.

“St. Cloud’s roots run deep with community pride, dating back to its inception as a veteran’s colony over 100 years ago,” said Secretary Byrd. “With a commitment of setting St. Cloud on a course toward prosperity, St. Cloud Main Street has spent the last 25 years honoring the spirit of those brave soldiers and protecting the community’s history and historic structures.”

St. Cloud was originally developed on land purchased in 1881 by Hamilton Disston, who acquired millions of acres of swampland to grow sugarcane. The Sugar Belt Railway, completed in 1888 between Kissimmee, St. Cloud, and Narcoossee, moved the sugar to market and occasionally carried passengers along the line. Disston’s sugar growing operation ended due to the Great Freeze during the winter of 1894-1895.

In 1909, the Seminole Land and Investment Company purchased 35,000 acres of the Disston Plantation to start a veteran’s retirement colony known as St. Cloud. The Seminole Land and Investment Company was established by the national Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a major political and social fraternal support organization for Union veterans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Veterans could purchase 5-acre plots from the company for $50 and, after receiving a deed to their land, lived in tents until their homes could be built. They often gathered for other social or professional appointments at GAR Memorial Hall, built in 1914 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in February 1997. These activities contributed to St. Cloud adopting the moniker “the Soldier City.”


Historic Photo and current photo of St. Cloud Conn Building merged together

Zimmerman’s General Store, Conn Building, c. 1910, and the Conn Building, 2024.

Photograph courtesy of Florida Memory and St. Cloud Main Street

After incorporation as a city on June 1, 1915, St. Cloud grew to include a boathouse, an electric and ice plant, a bank, a Presbyterian Church, and other homes built among the veteran settlers. The historic downtown area, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, began to thrive with hotels, grocery stores, a car garage, and a brick railroad depot. When a fire swept through downtown St. Cloud in 1917, the community united to help put out the fire and rebuild their community in its aftermath. A notable part of the rebuilding effort was the establishment of the Veteran’s Memorial Library, which opened in February 1923. The library was designed by Ida Ryan and Isabel Roberts, co-founders of Orlando’s first all-female architectural firm, Ryan & Roberts. The library building was connected to the St. Cloud Women’s Club and used primarily as a meeting place for civic groups until the city took it over in 2001. In 2005, it reopened as the St. Cloud Heritage Museum and was individually listed on the National Register in 2016.

Established in 1999, St. Cloud Main Street has been diligent in its mission to promote downtown and the surrounding area through historic preservation. Since its inception, St. Cloud Main Street has seen 308 net businesses added to the program area, providing 718 net jobs. The total amount of public and private investment dollars in the Main Street district is just short of $25 million. Less than a century after veterans began settling in St. Cloud, the Main Street program has helped preserve the history of downtown, including obtaining seven Florida Historical Markers and four National Register of Historic Places designations, including the Heritage Museum, the GAR Hall, St. Cloud Depot, and the Downtown Historic District. The program has also added fourteen murals that are on the Florida Mural Trail, which visually tell the story of St. Cloud’s history. The lakefront experience in downtown St. Cloud lends itself to movie nights, community Trunk or Treats, and annual “Light Up the Park” events during the holidays that feature activities in Peghorn Park.

“We are proud to be known as the Soldier City and to continue to promote our humble beginnings,” said Paula Stark, Executive Director of St. Cloud Main Street. “Our successes would not be possible without the many community leaders who over the years have participated on boards, on committees, and as volunteers. We have truly been blessed beyond measure to have our wonderful downtown, businesses and partners who over and over come together for the betterment of our community.”

To learn more about St. Cloud Main Street, visit or follow on Facebook.

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


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 57 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.