In 1980, as part of the national roll out of a then-new concept for the revitalization of historic downtowns, THC Commissioner Anice Read introduced the Main Street program to Texas and helped our state become one of the first state Main Street coordinating programs in the nation. Mrs. Read also served as the first director of Texas' Main Street program. Five years after creating the Texas Main Street Program, Mrs. Read helped found the Texas Downtown Association (TDA), a non-profit membership association, which continues to be a partner today. In 1998, shortly before Mrs. Read passed away, the two organizations worked together to create the Anice Read Fund, which is managed through the Texas Downtown Association. This Fund provides small grants to downtowns all across the state and has leveraged considerable downtown investment. TDA and TMSP annually co-sponsor a statewide downtown revitalization conference. We continue to honor Mrs. Read's legacy today with our work and a belief that downtown revitalization is a crucial tool for enhancing the economic and social health of a community. In addition to being the most visible indicator of community pride and economic health, the historic downtown is also the foundation of the unique heritage of a community. The historic buildings in a downtown are prime locations for the establishment of unique entrepreneurial businesses and can also be tourism attractors, all of which add to the community’s sales tax collections and property values. Today, massive, look-alike retail centers permeate the national landscape, making it even more important that communities be proactive in saving and using their historic spaces to avoid becoming featureless places. Working in all four activity areas, local Main Street programs rejuvenate these special places. The programs and their property/business owners in designated local Main Street communities that have been accepted through application receive continual pro-bono assistance from the state Main Street staff in the areas of economic development, design, historic preservation, and organizational management/program capacity building.
The Texas Main Street Program (TMSP) will positively influence and impact the economic health and the preservation of important historic resources in Texas and our work with local communities throughout the state will help achieve the goals of the Texas Historical Commission. Through guidance from the TMSP, designated local Main Street programs will be organizationally sound and their historic town centers will be visually improved and economically viable.
The mission of the TMSP is to provide technical expertise, education, resources and support to designated Main Street communities. Utilizing our individual and collective skills, we shall guide our designated programs in effectively preserving and revitalizing their historic downtowns and commercial neighborhood districts in accord with the National Main Street Four Point Approach™ of organization, design, economic vitality and promotion.
Through strong belief that historic commercial resources and their appropriate preservation is a major contributor to the overall economic, social and cultural vitality of a community, the staff of the Texas Main Street Program shall exhibit great passion, interest and enthusiasm for assisting local stakeholders as they revitalize their historic town centers. To that end, we view ourselves as public servants working in harmony to help local communities meet their objectives. We will strive to provide highly effective individualized services to our designated programs in a team-centered approach.
- Organization: Partnerships are essential for successful preservation-based downtown revitalization. Through a solid Main Street structure, many groups that share an interest in the health of downtown come together to work toward an agreed-upon vision for downtown and thus, for the community.
- Promotion: This aspect of the Approach is utilized to market a unified, quality image of the business district as the center of activities, goods and services.
- Design: Capitalizing on the downtown’s unique physical assets and heritage, design activities such as building rehabilitations, utilization of preservation-based tools and ordinances and effective planning practices help to create an active district and maintain its authenticity.
- Economic Vitality: In this area, a targeted program is developed to identify new market opportunities for the commercial district, find new uses for historic commercial buildings, and stimulate investment in property.
Today, there are 90 official Texas Main Street communities all across Texas that range in population from less than 2,000 to more than 300,000. Cumulatively, designated Texas Main Street communities have reported significant reinvestment into their historic downtowns:
More than $4.4 billion of overall reinvestment has been reported, of which about half has been from private investment in Texas' Main Street districts.
Additionally, Main Street cities have added more than 41,000 jobs and 10,300 small businesses to the Texas economy.
These reinvestments show the significant economic development impact from historic preservation. TMSP staff work hand-in-hand with designated communities to help them achieve their goals.
There are thousands of participating Main Street communities all across the nation in 44 states. More information about the nationwide effort can be found at the website of the National Main Street Center. The national center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
For more information about the Texas Main Street program, please contact the Texas Main Street state coordinator or call 512-463-5758.