MainStreet Hamilton County, is making progress on the Heritage Village project and the Old Jail refurbishing. A grant was received from the state of Florida to stabilize several buildings at the Heritage site and make repairs to the Old Jail.

William Greene, president of MainStreet, announced that the work on the Old Jail, to abate lead paint and repair and repaint the old cells, has been completed. The work included stripping the old lead based paint, repairing the cells and repainting them in the original color.

At the Heritage Village site, across from the Old Jail on northeast First Avenue in Jasper, work has begun in earnest on the project. Fencing has been purchased from a local merchant and is currently being installed. The perimeter of the project, between First Avenue NE and First Avenue NW, will be fenced with a buffer of plantings and shrubs to provide screening for the project. Parking will be provided next to the cotton gin, accessible outside the fencing. Fencing is also being located at the Old Jail perimeter.

The cotton gin, the last one of its kind is being preserved. Work continues to repair and replace the outside brick and re-mortar as needed. Future plans include restoring the interior and housing MainStreet offices and a museum. On the village grounds, the church is being stabilized and the underpinnings repaired. Work is also being done to completely build one of the oldest log cabins in Hamilton County. The cabin was moved to the site previously and will be dismantled and reassembled on a permanent foundation. The logs have been numbered for the process.

Heritage Village, upon completion, will be a trip through the history of Hamilton County from the 1800s to the middle 1950s. There will be dwellings representing the significant periods in time. The first phase includes the lob cabin, church, a "shotgun" house and the cotton gin. Eventually a pioneer homestead, a museum and a gift shop are planned. The Village will be open to the public for tours and available for special events.

The project is the largest of several projects undertaken by MainStreet in the county. Other projects include work on the old bank in Jennings and beautification projects in both White Springs and Jennings.

MainStreet was formed by a group of local residents to preserve and revitalize the "main street" of the communities in Hamilton County. It is affiliated with the nationwide MainStreet program. The immediate goals are twofold, to preserve some of the area's history and to encourage revitalization and restoration of the downtown historic areas. Bringing tourism and life back to the towns and benefiting the local merchants and citizens are on-going objectives of the program.

MainStreet is supported through memberships from businesses and citizens, along with grants from local government. The major grant for the restoration project was obtained from the state of Florida.

Tickets are currently available for the July 4 raffle to help raise funds for the endeavors. The first prize is a stainless grill and the second award is a fishing trip for two. Tickets can be purchased at local businesses and from MainStreet members. The drawing will be held on July 4.

More information is available at the MainStreet office on Central Avenue in Jasper, or by calling 792-1577.

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