Struggling Hastings, Potato Capital of Florida, might soon vote town out of exis…


HASTINGS |The previous city corridor and group middle, a as soon as-very important constructing on a as soon as-very important Major Road, dominates the downtown of this previous potato- and cabbage-farming city. It’s two tales excessive and sprawling, and when you squint deeply you’ll be able to think about it in its heyday, many many years in the past.

Chris Stanton remembers going to the flamboyant Potato Balls that have been held there. He remembers the basketball courtroom he performed on inside, and the library too, which his grandmother helped discovered. When he was president of the Rotary Membership, they held conferences within the constructing.

Now although it’s an empty shell with no doorways and never a lot of a roof, and weeds develop the place individuals as soon as did enterprise, socialized and checked out books. Flooding and time and neglect killed it, and a sequence-hyperlink fence retains out the curious.

It’s proper throughout from a vacant lot the place a few quarter of the downtown, together with a grocery retailer, burned down, an enormous catastrophe for the so-referred to as Potato Capital of Florida, which is simply 1.sixty six sq. miles in measurement. That fireplace was in 1985, the identical yr the Faculty Board closed the city’s highschool, one other large setback.

The deserted previous city corridor appears an apt image for the city, inhabitants 600 or so, a hardscrabble place within the southwest nook of St. Johns County, one of many richest counties within the state.

Hastings was based in 1890 when Florida railroad and lodge king Henry Flagler despatched a relative, Thomas Horace Hastings, inland to develop greens for his Flagler’s resorts. It was included as a city 19 years later.

In Hastings’ heyday, potatoes and cabbages flooded in from surrounding farms to be processed, packed and shipped by rail or truck throughout the nation. Companies lined busy Most important Road. The Dixie Freeway, the primary north-south route from Michigan to Miami, got here by way of city in 1916, paved with bricks and busy with vacationers.

These days are gone.

By the railroad monitor on the city limits is an previous potato-packing plant that when employed lots of of individuals. It’s deserted now.

A visit to the grocery store or drugtore means heading down Florida 207 by way of flat farm land to Palatka or St. Augustine; faculty youngsters all have to go away the city limits for sophistication.

It’s gotten so far: In November, Hastings voters will determine if the city authorities ought to dissolve itself. Hastings would nonetheless be a mailing tackle however, as a city, it will not exist.

As an alternative, it might turn out to be an unincorporated…



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