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High Springs Mural Project Update from The Heart of High Springs Inc.

Press release from The Heart of High Springs, Inc.

This past spring, The Heart of High Springs, Inc. successfully hosted its first series of events, including an exhibit of their collection of historic content, launched a mural walking tour, and raised $30,000 in donations from area supporters. These donations were secured from the already committed High Springs Brewing Company and from The Khoury Family Foundation after Dr. Peter Khoury, of High Springs, attended one of the presentations. This makes the total fundraising efforts 90% complete for the projected budget for revitalization efforts in High Springs through a public art mural program.  

The organization also continues to raise funds for replacement of the gateway signs at the major entrances to the city and has more than $23,000 committed of the approximately $63,000 needed to replace all six signs originally installed in 2007. The first sign, the largest, is located on Highway 441 and is expected to be installed in August.

A week of history, art, and conversation

The organization’s conversations with the community about its history included a week (Mar 12-19) of public presentations and discussions along with an exhibit of posters at the local library. The twenty posters depict a variety of stories researched and collected by the group’s volunteers. These potential mural themes were very well received. Visitors suggested additional topics, and these will be incorporated into the exhibit. The Heart of High Springs (THOHS) continues to solicit community input and plans to display an updated poster collection this summer.

With much success, the inaugural mural walking tour was launched. A cellphone-based audio tour, with a companion map available for printing online and available at select locations downtown, brings the history of each mural to life. The tour of existing murals has been very popular with residents and visitors alike.

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A social media campaign also showcased the proposed mural themes. New historic themes were revealed daily. It has been suggested that these stories can serve as the foundation of a book that will reach a wider audience.

A mural ordinance review and guidance is next

Regarding concerns raised about painting murals in the city’s historic district, the group is aware of the restrictions and will ensure that property owners they work with will abide by historic preservation regulations. “We support clarifying the city’s existing mural ordinance so that no murals will be painted on exposed historic red brick walls and that mural themes, as well as their size and color, shall be carefully selected to match the style and decor of adjacent buildings,” said Ross Ambross, a THOHS board member and sponsor, as well as a High Springs city commissioner who will have a vote on that proposed ordinance.

Community outreach has resulted in new support for the organization and its activities, including additional pledges from local citizens that have brought the total pledged to $90,000, keeping a promise that no city funds would be required. “The Khoury Family Foundation was established to improve the overall quality of life in communities where our family members live,” said Dr. Khoury when describing his contribution and pledge to the organization.

Aligning with the High Springs CRA Strategic Plan

The projects being promoted by The Heart of High Springs align with the city’s Community Redevelopment Strategic Plan. The Plan identified concerns expressed by residents that the downtown corridor was starting to appear ‘tired’ and ‘worn.’ The Plan was approved by the City Commission in August 2021. “It is important to emphasize that most of the buildings in this area are privately owned. Implementing a redevelopment plan requires close cooperation with the building owners,” said Nancy Lavin, President and a licensed real estate agent.

The Heart of High Springs, Inc. is a non-profit organization working to enrich the quality of life in High Springs, Florida. For more information about The Heart of High Springs, to volunteer or donate, please visit heartofhighsprings.org.

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