Written by Erica Stewart
The October Main Street Round-Up of noteworthy stories begins in Baltimore. In the I’ve-never-heard-of-such-a-thing-category, Fell’s Point Main Street reports that Bertha's Mussels, a beloved local restaurant, is welcoming its Fell’s Point neighbors to drop off their kitchen scraps and garden waste at a composting can in front of the restaurant every Saturday morning. A local organic waste hauling and composting company will do the rest. Bertha’s currently composts all its food wastes and now, all area residents can too.
Another “green” happening in Fell’s Point and beyond is the Baltimore Business Energy Challenge, a program to help all ten Main Street programs work with small businesses to lower their energy costs. The initiative will help businesses focus on creating jobs, not on paying their utility bills, and is right in line with the City's overall goal of reducing energy usage by 15% by 2015. Businesses who sign the pledge receive an energy conservation kit, customized technical assistance, and a spiffy window decal that signals to consumers their commitment to saving green by going green.
Ever wondered why University of Nebraska’s nickname is the Cornhuskers, of all things? Well, I have. Doesn’t seem too intimidating, right? I mean, my three year-old son can basically husk corn. Well, I stand corrected. Moline Centre Main Street in Moline Illinois, is screening a 30 minute documentary that peels back the, well, husk that obscures competitive corn husking’s rich and storied past. Come to find out, in 1936, TIME magazine called it "...the fastest growing sporting spectacle in the world." Check out this trailer on these “cornfield gladiators.” You may never look at an ear of corn (or the Nebraska football team) the same way again:
Adaptive use is one of, if not my favorite, things about preservation. But this story rivals the best transformation stories out there. Lots of old industrial buildings are rehabbed and converted into spacious office space or hip loft apartments. But the Faribault Woolen Mill in Faribault, Minnesota is being rehabbed to serve as a mill again, and a local woolen manufacturing business that dates back to 1865 is being revived as well. The company closed in 2009 but its beloved blankets are fondly and proudly remembered in Faribault and beyond. The mill’s return is a wonderful example of the importance of stewarding what makes a place special—for the benefit of the community and the economy.
National Trust Main Street Center Director Doug Loescher talked with Eric Hovee from VoiceAmerica Internet Radio last Saturday about the role of Main Streets in staging America’s economic comeback. How have America’s Main Streets fared through the Great Recession? What have been the successes? And what lies ahead? Hear Doug’s take in his interview, now online.
And in the now-I’ve-heard-everything-category, we share a Wall Street Journal story that explains why Beatlemania has returned to a fever-pitch in tiny Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. It seems the Fab Four briefly touched down at the town’s airstrip, while en route to a private ranch to recharge from touring. Forty-seven years later, this Main Street town is following the “if you build it they will come” mantra by unveiling a metal sculpture of the band members that is modeled after the famous “Abbey Road” album cover. A documentary of Walnut Ridge’s brush with fame is in the works and folks want to rename a local street after that album as well. They’re counting on luring nostalgic music fans from the rock n’ roll Mecca of Memphis which is only 90 miles away. Heritage tourism takes all shapes. More power to ‘em!
Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Public Affairs department.