Starke, Florida

Coordinates: 29°56′39″N 82°06′35″W / 29.94417°N 82.10972°W / 29.94417; -82.10972
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Starke, Florida
City of Starke
From top, left to right: Santa Fe College's Andrews Center, Downtown Call Street at Sunset, Old Bradford County Courthouse, Florida Twin Theatre, David Hurse Stadium
Official seal of Starke, Florida
Southern Hospitality at its Finest
Location in Bradford County and the state of Florida
Location in Bradford County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 29°56′39″N 82°06′35″W / 29.94417°N 82.10972°W / 29.94417; -82.10972
Country United States
State Florida
County Bradford
IncorporatedApril 4, 1870
 • TypeCommission-Manager
 • MayorScott Roberts
 • Vice MayorAndy Redding
 • CommissionersDanny Nugent,
Janice D. Mortimer,
and Shannon Smith
 • City ManagerRussell A. Mullins
 • City ClerkJimmy Crosby
 • Total7.18 sq mi (18.59 km2)
 • Land7.18 sq mi (18.59 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation167 ft (51 m)
 • Total5,796
 • Density807.47/sq mi (311.74/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)904, 324
FIPS code12-68525[3]
GNIS feature ID0291634[2]

Starke is a city in and the county seat of Bradford County, Florida, United States.[4] The population was 5,796 at the 2020 census. The origin of the city's name is disputed. Starke may have been named in honor of local landowner George W. Cole's fiancée's family or in honor of Madison Starke Perry, fourth governor of Florida.[5]


Founding and 19th century[edit]

Headquarters of The Bradford County Telegraph, Florida's oldest weekly news publication.
Headquarters of The Bradford County Telegraph, Florida's oldest weekly news publication.

Prior to 1857, the area that is today Starke was sparsely settled. The announcement of the Fernandina to Cedar Key railroad, which would connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico, brought the first known settlement to the community.[6]

In November 1857, the first post office in the area was established by George W. Cole. In 1859, Cole obtained 40 acres (16 ha) of land around the post office, which were described in his documents as the "Original Town of Starke."[6]

In 1858, the railroad reached Starke, bringing new residents to the community. The city was incorporated on April 4, 1870. In 1875, Bradford County residents narrowly voted to move the county seat from Lake Butler to Starke. Three additional votes would be taken in later years on the location of the county seat, before the Florida Legislature resolved the issue in 1921, with the creation of Union County.[6]

Starke's weekly newspaper, The Bradford County Telegraph, began publication in 1879 as The Florida Weekly Telegraph (it continues to be the oldest weekly newspaper in Florida today). The city experienced tremendous growth in the 1880s and 1890s from Florida's citrus industry. Northerners moved to the area in droves to take a stake in the industry, but the state's Great Freeze that, came in the winter of 1894-1895 devastated the area's orange groves, moving the citrus industry further south.[6]

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

Starke oversaw a period of rapid expansion brought on by the new U.S. Highway 301 in the early 1900s, and the construction of Camp Blanding during World War II.

For travelers coming from the northeastern United States, Highway 301 was the quickest route between Jacksonville and Tampa (a title it still holds to this day). Starke's status as one of the largest cities on the route, as well its location on State Road 100, brought numerous hotels to the area. The construction of nearby Camp Blanding as a military training facility during World War II added to the local building boom, and by 1950, the city's population had doubled.[6]

Post-World War II, the boom continued and the area continued to see an influx of residents working in the service industry and in its strawberry fields. Bradford County's famous Strawberry Festival was born during this time, and it continues to attract thousands of visitors today.

In the late 1980s, the city received national media attention during the proceedings of the Ted Bundy case and his eventual execution at Florida State Prison in nearby Raiford, Florida.[7] It also received attention when Lawton Chiles was Florida governor as a notorious speed trap town, even having warning billboards placed on Interstate 10's exit onto south US 301. Other speed traps on this stretch of US 301 between I-10 and I-75 were Waldo, Lawtey, and Hampton.

During this time, controversy would also arise over the cross located on the city's water tower, as national atheist groups condemned the community. In the early 2000s, a court motion was filed by American Atheists against the city to remove the cross, bringing Starke back into the national spotlight. The battle in court would prove contentious, with most city residents staunchly opposed to its removal. In 2007, a district judge ruled against the city, and the cross would later be moved to a location on private property.[8]

In later years, American Atheists attempted to have a Ten Commandments monument removed from the courtyard of the Bradford County Courthouse. A compromise was eventually reached however in this case.[9]


Starke is located in east-central Bradford County. U.S. Route 301 passes through the center of the city, leading north 26 miles (42 km) to Baldwin and Interstate 10 (with Jacksonville through it) and southwest (via State Road 24) 25 miles (40 km) to Gainesville.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.2 square miles (18.7 km2), all land.[10]

Starke is located approximately 8 miles (13 km) west of Florida's National Guard base, Camp Blanding, and is approximately 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Florida State Prison, Union Correctional Institution, and New River East Correctional Institution.

The exact location for the City of Starke is at the coordinates 29°56′39″N 82°06′35″W / 29.94417°N 82.10972°W / 29.94417; -82.10972.


Starke has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa).

Climate data for Starke, Florida, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1958–2019
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 84
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 68.3
Daily mean °F (°C) 56.8
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 45.3
Record low °F (°C) 8
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.96
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 6.7 6.8 6.6 5.5 5.8 11.3 13.6 13.8 10.8 5.9 4.5 6.2 97.5
Source: NOAA[11][12]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

2010 and 2020 census[edit]

Starke racial composition
(Hispanics excluded from racial categories)
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race Pop 2010[14] Pop 2020[15] % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 3,451 3,423 63.33% 59.06%
Black or African American (NH) 1,586 1,690 29.11% 29.16%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 15 22 0.28% 0.38%
Asian (NH) 58 54 1.06% 0.93%
Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian (NH) 1 7 0.02% 0.12%
Some other race (NH) 7 21 0.13% 0.36%
Two or more races/Multiracial (NH) 124 254 2.28% 4.38%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 207 325 3.80% 5.61%
Total 5,449 5,796

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 5,796 people, 2,160 households, and 1,215 families residing in the city.[16]

As of the 2010 United States census, there were 5,449 people, 2,062 households, and 1,329 families residing in the city.[17]

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 5,593 people, 2,003 households, and 1,350 families residing in the city. The population density was 839.3 inhabitants per square mile (324.1/km2). There were 2,273 housing units at an average density of 341.1 per square mile (131.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.05% White, 29.54% African American, 0.21% Native American, 1.25% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 0.64% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.23% of the population.

In 2000, there were 2,003 households, out of which 32.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.3% were married couples living together, 20.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.6% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.14.

In 2000, in the city, the population was spread out, with 26.7% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.1 males.

In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $27,021, and the median income for a family was $35,093. Males had a median income of $27,176 versus $17,986 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,507. About 19.2% of families and 23.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.9% of those under age 18 and 23.2% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture[edit]

Points of interest[edit]

Looking north on Starke's Call Street. Call Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Looking north on Starke's Call Street. Call Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • Call Street Historic District - Starke's downtown is home to locally-owned restaurants, antique shops, a jewelry store, and a movie theatre.
  • Bradford County Strawberry Festival - In 1998, city and county residents came together to start the Strawberry Festival to recognize the importance of the strawberry crop in the community. The two day festival, which is held the first week of April, attracts thousands of visitors annually.[18]
  • Eugene L. Matthews Historical Museum - This museum, named after the longtime editor of The Bradford County Telegraph, showcases many items from Bradford County's history. It is open select days of the month, or by appointment.[19]
  • Andrews Center - Formerly the old Bradford County Courthouse, the Romanesque-style structure built in 1902 is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is widely considered to be the centerpiece of Starke and its distinctive look makes it one of the most recognizable symbols of the city and Bradford County.
  • Florida Twin Theatre - Having opened in 1941, the Florida Twin Theatre is one of the oldest movie theatres in north Florida. The theatre has been a popular destination for travelers from around the region for decades.[20]


Starke City Hall
Starke City Hall

Starke has a Commission-Manager form of government, with a mayor, vice mayor and three council members, all elected to single member districts. In addition, the City Clerk and Chief of Police are elected positions. Starke City Officials serve four-year terms.

The current city commissioners are:

  • District 1: Danny Nugent
  • District 2: Janice Mortimer
  • District 3: Shannon Smith
  • District 4: Scott Roberts (Mayor)
  • District 5: Andy Redding (Vice Mayor)

The city clerk is James "Jimmy" Crosby, the city manager is Russell A. Mullins, and the Chief of Police is Jeff Johnson.


  • Bradford High School
  • Bradford Middle School
  • Starke Elementary School
  • Bradford Elementary School (As of 2023).

Southside Elementary School officially closed its doors in November of 2023, having been used temporarily in light of the new school site being built for the current staff and students. The school building itself will be utilized as the new School District office. Schools within Starke are operated by the Bradford County School District. In addition, the Bradford County Public Library is in Starke. It is a part of the New River Public Library Cooperative.[21]

Higher education[edit]

  • Santa Fe College's Andrews Center serves Bradford and Union counties as an important learning and cultural institution.
  • North Florida Technical College (Bradford-Union Technical Center), a tertiary institution managed by the school district, is in Starke.


Film and television locations[edit]

Starke has been the location of several Hollywood films, including:

Starke has been the location of the following television series:

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 2, 2021.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Starke, Florida
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ The official web site of the City of Starke, Florida states: "George W. Cole, a land speculator and developer, attracted here by the prospects of growth following arrival of the railroad, obtained title to a 40-acre tract on both sides of the railroad for a reputed $100. This section of land is still known in legal description as 'The Original Town of Starke.'...One legend has it that the post office was given the name of Starke in honor of Mr. Cole's fiancée, whose family name was Starke. Another account has it that the town was named in honor of Madison Starke Perry, Governor of Florida from 1857 to 1861. No one actually knows which version of the naming is correct." "The City of Starke Florida". Archived from the original on December 4, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e "The Story of Starke" (PDF). The Bradford County Telegraph. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  7. ^ "The Prison Starke Won't Talk About". The Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  8. ^ "American Atheists, Inc. v City of Starke". Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  9. ^ "Atheist monument goes up in Starke". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  10. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Starke city, Florida". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  11. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  12. ^ "Summary of Monthly Normals 1991-2020". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Starke city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  15. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Starke city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  16. ^ "S1101 HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES - 2020: Starke city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  17. ^ "S1101 HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES - 2010: Starke city, Florida". United States Census Bureau.
  18. ^ "Bradford County Strawberry Festival". North Florida Regional Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved May 15, 2022.
  19. ^ "Eugene L. Matthews Historical Museum". Natural North Florida. Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  20. ^ "Florida Twin Theatre: Our History". Florida Theatre. Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  21. ^ Home. Bradford County Public Library. Retrieved on March 12, 2018. "Address: 456 W Pratt St, Starke, FL 32091"
  22. ^ "G.I. Jane Filming Locations". IMDB, An Amazon Company. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  23. ^ "Tigerland Filming Locations". IMDB, An Amazon Company. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  24. ^ a b "FDOT Bradford County Freight & Logistics Overview" (PDF). Florida Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  25. ^ "Boot Camp Filming Locations". IMDB, An Amazon Company. Retrieved March 21, 2014.

External links[edit]