Hastings Main Street Receives Florida Main Street Community Designation

Earlier this year, Secretary of State Cord Byrd recognized Hastings Main Street in St. Johns County as one of the two newest Florida Main Street communities. The Florida Main Street Program, administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation through the revitalization of Florida’s downtowns—the community’s heart and soul.

“I am excited to acknowledge Hastings Main Street and Eastside Jacksonville as the newest Florida Main Street communities,” said Secretary Byrd. “These organizations exhibit the pride and passion we seek in our participating programs. I look forward to their successes and achievements in the new year and in the future.”

The community of Hastings originated as an agricultural railroad town. During the late 1800s, Henry Flagler began investing in Florida, purchasing and expanding railroads and developing hotels along the Atlantic coast. As Flagler’s hotel empire expanded, he needed a fresh supply of produce to feed workers and visitors. To solve this problem, he encouraged his cousin Thomas Horace Hastings to establish a large agricultural operation. In 1890, a small farming community originally known as Hastings Station sprang up along the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC). In 1909, the town of Hastings was formally incorporated. Although area farmers grew a variety of crops, Hastings became best known for its potatoes. Soon, it became known as the Potato Capital of Florida. The community entered a period of growth in the early 20th century, with a downtown that catered to the agricultural industry, particularly potato growing. Its location along the FEC railroad made it an important transshipment point for local farmers seeking to bring their produce to market.

Today, Hastings Main Street is working to capitalize on momentum and experience gained from recent community events, such as the Hastings Fall Festival of Art, to help generate buzz for what is expected to be an exciting 2024. Several businesses in the district anticipate holding grand openings, and the town will host numerous family friendly events, including a barbeque competition, barrel racing series, car shows, concerts, markets, expos, and the local tradition of celebrating Hastings’ history known as the Cabbage, Potato and Bacon Festival. The hard work and determination of the community will culminate when The Venue, a new event space, opens in the renovated historic Stanton Ford automotive dealership.

“Today marks a significant milestone for Hastings as we are recognized by Secretary of State Cord Byrd for our participation in the Florida Main Street Program,” said Jena Dennis, Chair of the Hastings Main Street Board of Directors. “Being part of this program is a tremendous benefit for our community. It not only acknowledges our rich history, dating back to the late 1800s when Henry Flagler and Thomas Horace Hastings played pivotal roles in our development, but also sets the stage for revitalization and economic growth. Receiving a Main Street designation means a commitment to preserving our unique heritage, while fostering new opportunities for our residents. It’s a testament to the dedication of our community members who have worked tirelessly to make Hastings a place where history meets progress. We believe that through this program, we can enhance our local economy, attract visitors, and create a vibrant and sustainable future for Hastings.”

To learn more about Hastings Main Street, visit www.hastingsfl.org. To learn more about the Florida Main Street Program, visit www.floridamainstreet.com. For more information about the St. Johns County Economic Development Department, visit www.sjcfl.us/economicdevelopment.