Driving into Campbellton along Interstate 231 reveals nothing more than a small town, complete with a pair of water towers that could tell the story of a changing burg. One is old, covered with age and rust, while the other stands taller and looks like it belongs in a modern town.
The town of 200 people may be a place where city officials conducted business out of the town clerk’s home just 12 years ago, but that has changed. Campbellton officials are working toward attracting new jobs to the area, but this rural town still has farm owners who give tours of their operations to local school children.
During the past decade, the town has seen grants come its way for housing rehabilitation projects. A number of streets have been paved, including Cedar Street. A new subdivision may be a reality in the future, as well as a bed and breakfast inn. There are plans to install a new computer lab in the town hall, which will provide access to computer classes and a place for students to complete homework assignments.
“It’s progress,” said one city official. “It’s been slow but steady. When I look around I see progress.”
The town’s community center found a home in a renovated hotel along Interstate 231 in 1997. Now, the building is home to everything from city council meetings to holiday gatherings.
“It’s kind of the one spot in town where people of all colors sit down together,” explained a city official.
The center features holiday celebrations every year. “Sometimes we’ll have Thanksgiving dinner or chili and the whole town comes together,” the city official said.
Another town gathering spot and centerpiece is the First Baptist Church in Campbellton. The church, established in 1825, is the oldest Baptist church in Florida.
“Actually, the church was there before Florida was a state,” the church’s pastor said. The church had 19 charter members in the first year. In 1848, the first Female Missionary Society in Florida formed at the church.
Old Campbellton High School alumni also gather at the church every fall to celebrate school reunions. Former students get to see photos from the school’s history and its basketball team’s trophies.