Photo courtesy of the Sebring Historical Society Merged photos show the changes around the Sebring Circle from around 1915 to 2004.
published: Sunday, July 22, 2012
A look at then, and now ... 'The Good Old Days'
A familiar quote, credited to Will Rogers, reads, "All I know is what I read in the papers." While a study of the newspapers may give a fairly clear chronical of events and may document the periods and eras of developments as acceptable history, they lack a great deal of information.
It might be difficult for the young people of today to realize that there was no radio, no television or other media that broadcast news every hour on the hour, giving daily reports and statistics on unemployment, rise in crime rates, popularity of presidents, gross national product declines, high-jackings, market slumps, advances in the cost of living and other facts and dire predictions, most of which seem designed to have a depressive effect.
Those who can look back over a span of half a century or more, to the first years of Sebring's history, will emphatically contend that "Those Were the Good Old Days". In the first decade after the first settlers arrived, the only medium of news dissemination in Sebring was the local weekly sheet, which was primarily devoted to telling of parties, church services, new people coming to town and praising the advantages of the town-site, its climate, water, etc. A birth or wedding rated a headline on the front page although everyone in town knew about it well before the type was set.
Communities, like people, have character, and like people, this character is developed in the early stages according to the guidance of those in power in the formative years. People who came to Sebring before the hectic days of the famous Florida Boom in the mid-1920's were primarily interested in a quiet and peaceful type of life. Practically all were religiously inclined and the town's founders who kept their promise of a free lot to any group that would build a church thereon encouraged this.
The police department was more of a title than a vocation. The principle responsibility was to drive any roaming cattle and swine out of the fenced town. Automobiles were never locked nor were homes. Folks would go on a vacation for two or three weeks and find everything in place when they returned even though the home was left unlocked.
If you think about it though, these still are "The Good Old Days". Sebring is still a lovely little town, although of course it has grown, it savors many things from yester-year. People still say "Howdy" on the streets, and it is still a pretty safe place to live, and to this day holds many of founder George Sebring's ideals true.
If the founder of Sebring were alive today, he would immediately recognize the downtown he conceived 100 years ago. The unique circle and spoke plan, the idea that all roads should lead to and from the center of the community, still exists today despite modern highway improvements.
While it may be that historical records claim that George Sebring's "circle plan" for his downtown was based on the design of Heliopolis, an Egyptian city, there is no doubt that Sebring is an all-American city ... a city that takes us back to a simpler place and time. Downtown Sebring has been designated a 1920s Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, and, according to the Sebring Chamber of Commerce, more than $16 million has been reinvested in its downtown over the last 10 years.
The money has obviously been well spent. The downtown has a fresh, almost movie-set look with Circle Park neatly manicured and the buildings restored to perfection. To top it off, 15 new businesses have opened in downtown since 2010. It's nearly impossible to think about driving through this charming area without stopping to take it all in. If you are traveling through Sebring on Highway 27, you may miss the opportunity to visit such a lovely place.
It's downtown where you'll step back in time to find an eclectic mix of fashionable shops, boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and more. The town's small picture-perfect park at the center of town invites visitors to sit and enjoy a shady respite from shopping. Sebring's Cultural Center is within walking distance of downtown and includes the public library; the Highlands Museum of the Arts; the Highlands Little Theater, where great food is combined with budget-pleasing entertainment; the Sebring Historical Society with a wealth of information inside; the Jack Stroup Civic Center; and let's not forget City Pier Beach and Rotary Park, all for your enjoyment.
On another cultural note, the second Friday of each month, the town Circle becomes the site of Destination Downtown Sebring, with a monthly event that brings residents together from all over. Destination Downtown Sebring is a group of active merchants who work hard every month hosting wonderful events in Downtown Sebring, as well as the Downtown Community Garage Sales. This volunteer group works hard to bring fun and excitement to downtown while still running their own businesses. Please show them your support.
Downtown Sebring is loaded with events going on. Some upcoming events include the Sebring Cruise Car Show, held the second Saturday of each month, the "Summer of Love" Volkswagen Jubilee, the second Annual Hot Rods & Hogs, Sebring Thunder III, Run to the Heartland and many more.
It seems that Sebring, the City on the Circle, isn't going around in circles at all. Our community has done well to preserve its past while embracing its future.
Be certain to participate as we celebrate our 100th birthday in this unique little town, sign up and join in on one of the many fun events. Mayor George Hensley urges all citizens, groups, clubs, societies and businesses to join in the celebration. For more information on any of the events, or for sponsor opportunities, call 655-5554, email events@Sebring100.com, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SebringCentennial, or Sebring100.com. Thanks to the News-Sun for the opportunity to help us keep everyone informed on Sebring's Centennial Celebration. Reference this article every Sunday and you won't miss a thing!
sebring (by: blindman - 7/22/2012)
By gravy, Sebring is just a swell place to be. Can you dig it?
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