Historic Downtown Homestead will now have its historic structures adorned with educational plaques that will allow visitors to identify and learn about the importance of these buildings. During a special presentation at the January 22nd City Council meeting, the plaques were presented to the owners of the buildings by Vice Mayor Stephen R. Shelley, Council Liaison to the Historic Preservation Board, who led the project, and Historic Preservation Board Chairwoman Yvonne Knowles.
“The partnership between the Preservation Board and the City Council to arrive at this point today represents a collective vision for the future of our city that safeguards our history for generations to come,” said Mrs. Knowles during the presentation.
The Homestead Historic Downtown District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 19, 2007. The district is comprised of eleven blocks and 73 buildings and is only one of four districts in South Florida (Miami Beach, Key West and Coral Gables rounding out the other three)to receive a National District Designation. Diligent and exhaustive work that earnestly began in 2002 by the Homestead Historic Preservation Board was rewarded in 2007 when the Department of the Interior approved the designation.
The best way to enjoy historic Homestead is by foot with the comprehensive, award-winning booklet produced by the City of Homestead entitled “Homestead: Then & Now.” In it, one will find full color pictures of the various buildings through the years, informative descriptions and a map that leads you on a self-guided walking tour. The seven buildings found in the guide allotted these plaques were:
The Hotel Redland, built in 1904, served as everything from a rooming house to Homestead’s first post office before it became a hotel in 1934; The Faust House is a prime example of 1920s Spanish-Colonial architecture built during the “Boom Town” Era; Fuchs Bakery had humble beginnings as a meat market but eventually became the nationally renowned Holsum Bread Company; The Seminole Theater, a building with an elegant Art Deco façade, narrowly escaped disaster during Hurricane Andrew and remains the area’s most iconic structure; The First Baptist Church is a monolithic building completed in 1912 and remains the only neo-classical structure left in downtown; The Old Town Hall building, built back in 1917 and located across from Losner Park, was the seat of power for our fledgling city back in the early days of the last century but today it serves as a visitor center and museum and, lastly, the Lily Lawrence Bow Library, with its oolitic limestone exterior and signature barrel tile roof, stands as one of the more contemporary structures having been completed in 1939.
“This plaque initiative and the newly-minted National Parks Trolley Program are just the latest efforts to target locals and visitors and drive their curiosity towards the treasure trove of history that awaits them in Historic Downtown Homestead,” said Vice Mayor Shelley. “These kinds of projects are key in revitalizing our city center with visitor dollars that will benefit local businesses and the public at large. We are moving Homestead forward by looking to our past.”