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Historical signs mark the spot

You’ve probably seen historical markers in your community — signs or plaques that commemorate a person, event or place that has a significant meaning in history. 

Winter Haven, Florida, is home to two of the most significant buildings in Publix’s history. But for many years, you would not have known it because the buildings retained only a slight resemblance to their former days as Publix stores. Fortunately, both buildings have permanent historical markers, since 2017 and 2018, respectively, so their stories will never be forgotten.

1940 Publix Super Market
In 2017, a historical marker was installed at the site of the 1940 Publix Super Market, 197 West Central Ave., Winter Haven, Florida. In its day, it was described as a “food palace,” and the innovations Mr. George introduced in this store impacted the entire food industry. Today, it’s home to St. Matthew Catholic Church’s Regenerations Resale Shop.

Publix worked with St. Matthew Catholic Church to apply for a historical marker to tell the history of this building. After the Polk County Historical Commission approved the application and the sign was produced, the community was invited to a special unveiling ceremony. The big day came on Aug. 23, 2017. Throughout his life, Mr. George gave so much help to churches and community organizations, he’d be happy to know that his former store is now serving the community through this ministry program.

The first Publix
In 2018, another historical marker was installed, this time on the building where George Jenkins opened his first store in 1930. Located at 58 Fourth Street NW in Winter Haven, today it’s the home of a locally owned restaurant . The owners are so proud of the building’s history, they named their restaurant Tempo 1930. Inside, they created a huge photo mural of people and places from Winter Haven’s history, including some photos of Mr. George and his Winter Haven stores.

SixTen, the property owner, also has a passion for history. They worked with Publix to apply for a historical marker so the significance of this building would forever be recognized. On Sept. 6, 2018, the date of Publix’s 88th anniversary, people gathered for a special celebration. Two of Mr. George’s grandsons had the honor of unveiling this historical sign.

Another highlight of the event was the bakery creations specially designed for the occasion. One cake was a life-sized paper grocery bag filled with produce. The other cake was a replica of the 1930 Publix Food Store.

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Asset Description Download Link
Historical markers commemorating the first Publix store in 1930 and another Publix Super Market from 1940. Download*
Group of people pulling sheet to reveal historical 1940s Publix marker. Download*
Cake replicas of the first Publix Food Store and Publix paper bag with groceries pouring out of the top. Download*