Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee announced today the designation of Eatonville as a Florida Main Street community. The designation provides technical assistance from the Florida Main Street Program to support local revitalization and preservation efforts.
“I am happy to welcome Eatonville as the newest Florida Main Street community,” said Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee. “Eatonville’s designation as the nation’s first incorporated African-American town shows the determination of a community invested in their heritage. I look forward to working with them to rejuvenate their historic downtown.”
Secretary Lee’s designation is based on the December 18, 2019 recommendation of the 2019 ad hoc Florida Main Street Advisory Committee. Composed of five members, the organizations represented included the Florida Division of Historical Resources, MainStreet DeLand Association, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, 1000 Friends of Florida and Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.
Located in Orange County, Eatonville is a small community of approximately 2,500 residents. Eatonville is named after local landowner Josiah Eaton who sold his land to newly-freed slaves in the early 1880s. The town was incorporated in 1887 as the first African-American incorporated town in the United States. Heavily rooted in both faith and education, Eatonville’s Hungerford Industrial School was founded in 1889 and served as a premier location for African-American education throughout the state. In addition, author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston spent her childhood in Eatonville. Each year, Zora! Festival is a three-day celebration in Eatonville that honors her legacy.
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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 47 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.