HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND RESTORATION
The Importance of Historic Preservation and Restoration:
Historic preservation affects many areas of the community, and is important in beautification because as these important buildings and spaces deteriorate, some of a community’s past can be lost, its present blemished and its future compromised. Through preservation, this can be avoided completely as communities work to maintain their history and guarantee their future economically through encouraging activities such as tourism in historic cities. Restoration is another challenge but can reach the same benefits as groups can engage in various restoration projects from just a fresh coat of paint on a building to a total remodeling that is true to the original structure.
Community Aesthetics are Essential to the Main Street Program
The Oklahoma Experience Of:
Oklahoma Main Street Center
Oklahoma Department of Commerce
The Oklahoma Main Street Program has been enhancing community aesthetics since 1986 through the revitalization of more than 60 rural communities and urban neighborhoods. Originating from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Main Street focuses on retaining the richness of original commercial architecture to stimulate business growth and social engagement. Image really is that important in community development.
Main Street is a local volunteer program that improves the physical, commercial and social aesthetics of historic business areas. The process requires the commitment of many people who care enough to donate their time, ideas and dollars to champion the rebirth of their downtowns. The more people involved in Main Street, the greater the community improvement effort. Downtown revitalization requires people to plan, clean, build and repair. Main Street communities understand the success of downtown revitalization rests in their hands. No one else is going to do it for them.
The local Main Street organization begins with a vision of how their downtown business districts will look. An annual work plan is divided in to four main sections, Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring. Each of the 4-Points® requires people to implement the various activities that will make their communities more attractive. For example, the economic restructuring and design committees work with business and property owners to help improve commercial property images. One challenge is to see each downtown as a tourist might – with fresh eyes. Many times people who work downtown get used to the way the area looks where out-of-towners are more apt to notice trash on sidewalks or broken curbs and poor street signage or dirty display windows and the emptiness of vacant buildings. A community only gets one first impression and if the downtown isn’t aesthetically pleasing, the impression will be to move on.
The Value of Design
Where are you planning to vacation this year? Where do you wish you were headed? Quite possibly, you are planning to go to the Colorado mountains and visit a quaint mountain town or maybe head to a beautiful beach and wander through great little boardwalk shops. If you are into history, then maybe you’ll be headed to Savannah, Georgia, or Charleston, South Carolina, or Portland, Maine. For fun, action-packed places, maybe it is Seattle or Washington, DC, or Miami. If you are into food and culture, maybe you’re headed to San Francisco, New Orleans, or Fredericksburg, Texas.
Bets are pretty good that you aren’t headed into to some slummy neighborhood in Detroit for your vacation or headed to some pathetic little town-at-the-interstate-interchange. That gas station fried buffet can be found anywhere. Just how many post cards and state key chains can one collect?
Now, where do you live? Or where would you like to live? Bets are that you didn’t say you want to live in a crime-ridden neighborhood filled with weeds, cars on blocks, and stray animals with children running rampant. Bet your dream house isn’t some fallen down lean-to collection of trailers in a dusty, rusty, little Oklahoma town with a Main Street lined with empty buildings full of yesterday’s busted dreams!
The Oklahoma Main Street Center has a network of bustling towns—urban neighborhoods, mid-sized towns, and very small towns—that aren’t just taking what fate deals them. The hard working Main Street volunteers and local program managers tackle the tasks at hand and order them into 4-points: Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring. Using proven historic preservation processes, the main street program guides downtown revitalization in these towns.
Organized committees host fun events in clean, authentic historic downtowns. These events bring people and money which support local businesses. All four points are important for successes. However, design is the point that helps create good first impressions and great lasting impressions. A newcomer or a prospective business owner may miss the promotion, but they will immediately notice a clean, restored, unique downtown. Locals are more likely to have pride in their town, too.
Check out the Oklahoma Main Street towns. Chances are that you’ll feel the difference as well as see the difference. These towns are both becoming vacation destinations as well as new hometowns for many people who are in search of quality places.