Written by Erica Stewart
The August round-up of interesting Main Street related happenings has us hopping around the country. All speak to the creativity, ingenuity and preservation “saves” that can be found in Main Street districts nationwide. Here is a handful of our favorites.
In the something borrowed, something blue category, we have news out of Indiana that the statewide preservation organization there, Indiana Landmarks, is moving toward rescuing Evansville, Indiana's beloved Greyhound Terminal, which has sat vacant for four years. Pending Board approval, the nonprofit organization will convert the landmark into their southwestern regional office, their ninth in the state. The 1939 building is one of two remaining terminals from Greyhound’s “Blue Period” in the country and the only surviving station clad in enameled-steel panels. The building’s vertical neon sign is also believed to be one of a handful nationwide featuring a running greyhound.
“Everyone loves this building,” says Indiana Landmarks’ President Marsh Davis. “Some have personal associations of arrival or departure, and others just love the streamlined Art Moderne design, the colorful exterior, and, of course, the speeding greyhound.”
Read more about the challenges of this particular rehabilitation and the plans for its reuse - including a public comment component – on the Indiana Landmarks website.
In Kingwood, West Virginia, the local Main Street organization has proven that real estate flipping doesn’t have to be a dirty word. From its gracious nineteenth-century Victorians, to a fully restored 1920’s gas station, to a new tagline, “Classic Character,” Kingwood oozes historic charm. But behind Kingwood’s seemingly effortless mix of picturesque-history-meets-twenty-first-century present lies a community-wide story of loss and triumphant re-growth. Learn how this small town rallied after the sudden demolition of a local landmark, and how Main Street Kingwood set up an innovative property-flipping system that has benefited the whole community.
Why is 47 the magic number in Belfast, Maine? Because it's the number of new business openings in the city’s downtown in only one year. You read that right: one year. Belfast’s story is a remarkable one of booming prosperity during a time of economic trouble, and is a testament to the power of the community's Main Street program, Our Town Belfast. This fledgling Main Street program has excelled by capitalizing on its positive relationship with the city government and actively recruiting new businesses - bringing an entire region’s worth of small businesses into its own downtown in just one year. How did they do it? Read their story in Main Street News
On June 26th, 15 artists gathered to paint the first on-street mural in Baltimore, Maryland. With support from a variety of partners including the Knott Foundation, Baltimore City’s Department of Transportation, Hamilton-Lauraville Mainstreets and Neighbhorhoods of Greater Lauraville Inc., a busy intersection in the Lauraville neighborhood has been transformed into a flat billboard of sorts celebrating locally grown foods and the district’s weekly farmers market. By painting large, eye-catching vegetables on the asphalt at the intersection, community leaders hope to calm traffic, beautify a major commuting corridor and stir up local pride and participation in the neighborhood. Neat idea. It has already been tried in Portland and New York City - I hope it comes to one of the busy intersections near me!
Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Public Affairs department.
Updated August 10, 2011.