For Immediate Release
Friday, December 1, 2023
Contact: Mark Ard
Secretary Byrd Designates Quincy Main Street as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Today, Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced that Quincy Main Street, in Gadsden County, has been designated the December 2023 Florida Main Street Program of the Month.
“I commend the work of Quincy Main Street and their efforts to restore their historic downtown,” said Secretary Byrd. “I support the vision of Quincy Main Street to bring together individuals and businesses to share their community’s history and promote economic development.”
Photograph courtesy of Quincy Main Street/Stephen Tillman Photography
From its founding in 1825, Quincy was the political and commercial hub of Gadsden County. Starting in Florida’s Territorial Period (1821-1845), Quincy was at the center of a thriving tobacco-growing region that depended on the labor of enslaved Black Americans. After the Civil War and Emancipation, the arrival of railroads and the development of shade tobacco led to a period of significant economic expansion for the community, reflected in some of the oldest buildings located downtown. Quincy was also an industrial center for the tobacco industry, with many processing facilities and factories from the large tobacco companies located in the area. The tobacco industry entered a period of decline after World War II and was largely phased out by the 1970s.
Downtown Quincy is one of the oldest county seats in Florida. Centered on a park-like square and magnificent courthouse, the city’s downtown features historic commercial buildings dating from the 1880s. The square is one of the few remaining preserved historic courthouse squares in Florida. The nine-block downtown business district, surrounded by a thirty-six block National Register Historic District, was shaped by two major influences: shade-grown, cigar wrapper tobacco and the Coca-Cola Company. Quincy was once the richest town per-capita in the United States, thanks to a trusted banker who urged his fellow townspeople to invest in Coca-Cola shares. In contrast, those cultivating shade tobacco for the region were paid far lower wages, inhibiting them from owning comparable houses or saving for the future. Evidence of the wealth of the small town can be seen in the adjacent residential community, where a mix of Victorian mansions and charming Southern cottages are nestled amongst moss-draped oak and magnolia trees.
Quincy’s first Main Street program formed in 1987, making it one of Florida’s original Main Street communities. Since its designation as a Florida Main Street community, Quincy has become a thriving arts community anchored by the Gadsden Arts Center and Museum, the Quincy Music Theater, and internationally known artist Dean Mitchell’s Marie Brooks Gallery, all three housed in restored, renovated, and repurposed historic buildings. Reorganized in 2016, Quincy Main Street, Inc. (QMS), is a private, non-profit organization formed by interested citizens concerned about the economic viability of the downtown district and possessing a desire to see a revitalized downtown Quincy as a destination for visitors and source of community pride for area residents.
In the past two years, the economic vitality committee of QMS has been successful in bringing people, businesses, and jobs back to the downtown district, as evidenced by a recent resurgence of building purchases and new business openings. QMS has been instrumental in the recent purchase of historic buildings on the courthouse square by families with generational ties to the community. Local investors have witnessed the value of QMS’s efforts to revitalize the downtown district by attracting new businesses, and increasing the number of people visiting, dining, and shopping downtown. Since 2019, Quincy Main Street has reported approximately $3,360,259 in public and private reinvestments, adding 8 businesses and 47 full-time and part-time jobs to the district. The organization has also reported 3,757 volunteer hours. Several apartments currently under construction in renovated downtown buildings will be available by the end of 2023 and four more businesses are expected to open in 2024.
The QMS promotions committee organizes free cultural events throughout the year that bring hundreds of residents and visitors downtown to enjoy food, music, and fellowship. The Porchfest Music Festival, now in its 12th year, was the first festival of its kind in Florida and has been the model for other Porchfests across the state. Other popular events are the Blues Brews & BBQ festival in the Fall, a monthly Farmers Market, the annual December Mistletoe Market, and Sip & Stroll shopping events. Several ticketed events help raise funds for the QMS program, such as dinner and music Twilight Concerts at the Quincy Garden Center, a Holiday Tour of Homes, and starting next year, a Plein Air Painting event in partnership with their Gadsden County neighbor, Havana Main Street.
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.