Main Street, Alachua


This morning, I had to drive up to Alachua, so I took the time to explore Main Street.  That is pronounced a-latch-u-WAY today, since I’m talking about the city.  The county has a short “a” on the end which is not stressed.  Except really, I pronounce both of them like the county, as do most of the people around here.  The radio announcers and some of the city’s old-timers pronounce them differently, and probably correctly.

*****

Main Street areas usually generate mixed feelings for me.  While I love old buildings and want them to be preserved, these cutesy areas usually seem forced and too aware of their charms.  They remind me of the 70s leading men who were all too aware that they were good looking, and dressed in Magnum PI shorts to emphasize their charms.  The charm is lost when it’s too played up.  Besides, usually these downtown areas are a bunch of tourist traps charging out the nose for junk that should never have been produced.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I got out of my car to wander these streets.  It really didn’t feel forced at all.  There weren’t a bunch of tchotchke shops.  Most of the buildings seemed to be restaurants, which is a perfect way to do this sort of street.  Charm is an important part of eating.  Other shops included a second-hand store, a florist, a candy store with homemade candies, and, best of all, an ice cream shop!

*****

The historic preservationists of Alachua apparently aren’t too strict.  There are areas of the country where the awning on the white building, above right, would never have been allowed, since it is not historically accurate.  It does fit the mood of the building and I think it enhances it.  That mixture of modern and aged is sometimes very hard to do, but here it has been done very well.

Likewise, the fence around the Ivy House is made of modern materials, but in a traditional style.  This looks wrong in many applications, but here it is a practical way to fence the house.  Vinyl is not one of my favorite materials, but it is much cheaper and easier to take care of than a wood fence.  The silly picket sign about Southern Casual Dining bothers me, however.  If that’s an important thing to say, it could have been said on the main sign.

The Computer Doctor sign in the middle of this block made me laugh, but is exactly why I like this downtown area.  It is not pretentious, or at least, not as pretentious as so many such areas are.  The row of shops is beautiful, even the empty ones.  Each one has slightly different details, such as the tiled doorstep above.  It almost makes me want to open a shop here myself!

You, my faithful reader, I am sure will be completely shocked by the news that I did not stop at the edge of the prettiness, but continued on down to the railroad track and the feed stores.  I even crossed over, to what was obviously the wrong side of the tracks. The nearness to the tracks and the age of this house suggest that it could have been a section house at one time.  The feed store on the other side of the street must have been a garage at one time.  The facade fascinates me.  I understand facades on some stores, although I don’t usually like them, but why would a feed store need to pretty itself up like this?

And just to add a little wildlife to the post, I present to you Forida’s state bird, a mockingbird.  These guys are everywhere, watching the goings on intently.  One of these days, they will take over the world!

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