Apalachicola Main Street has launched an historic plaque program that makes interpretive plaques available at a reduced cost to highlight our history, architecture, and culture. The vision of this program is to educate tourists and the general public about significant buildings, structures, and objects, as well as outstanding events and people involved in local, state, national, and/or international history.

It will represent a partnership between the city, Apalachicola Area Historical Society; and Main Street, for which economic development through historic preservation is at the core its mission.

To be eligible, the location must be within the downtown district, defined as Battery Park to the Scipio Creek Boat Basin, and Water Street to Sixth Street. Buildings must be at least 50 years old. The plaques will show an historic photo of the property, when available.

A grant from Visit Florida is providing funding which will make the first 12 plaques available for only $100.  The cost of subsequent plaques will be $400, so we urge anyone interested to get your application in today.

The funding will support costs associated with researching the history and producing the plaques and will further develop our website to provide associated content.  Plaques will include QR (Quick Response) codes to give those with Smartphones access to online features such as additional photos,  information, and links to other resources, giving us the opportunity to present much more information via our website than will fit on the plaques alone.

Both the project and the design of the plaques were modeled after the well-known plaque program administered by the Preservation Society of Charleston, South Carolina, one of the nation’s preeminent destinations for cultural and heritage tourism, which since 1959 has erected over 100 historic markers.

A city ordinance was passed a few years ago which established eligibility requirements, and two prototypes were produced for the last remaining cotton warehouses which now house City Hall and the Center for History, Culture, and Art. City Commissioner Frank Cook was instrumental in the development of the program. Our Visit Florida grant allows Main Street to continue and promote what the city started with these prototypes.

The design was updated to include a more prominent appearance, and will be constructed out of durable locally-sourced cypress. Local resident Pete Olson is constructing the wooden structure. Text will be printed on weatherproof vinyl-on-aluminum and adhered to the cypress housing.

This project will only augment Apalachicola’s popularity as a destination for cultural and heritage tourism.  I envision a future project to be publishing a walking trail brochure that highlights each plaque on a map.

Plaque applications can be downloaded from our website, www.DowntownApalachicola.com. If you are interested in placing an historic plaque on your building, please submit your application form today or contact us for more information.  Remember, the first 12 applicants get a plaque for $100, a $300 discount.

Augusta West is executive director of Apalachicola Main Street, a non-profit organization dedicated to downtown economic development and historic preservation. She can be reached at awest@apalachicolamainstreet.org or (850) 274-1321. Main Street’s offices are at 1 Avenue E, Apalachicola.