In 1980, as part of the national roll out of a then-new concept for the revitalization of historic downtowns, THC Commissioner Anice B. 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. Five years after creating the Texas Main Street Program (TMSP), Mrs. Read helped found the Texas Downtown Association, now known as Texas Downtown (TXDT), a non-profit membership association dedicated to downtown development and revitalization.
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 along with Transformation Strategies and the the four points under the Main Street Approach, local Main Street programs rejuvenate these special places. Programs and the property/business owners in designated local Main Street districts receive pro-bono assistance from the state Main Street staff in the areas of economic and small-business development, design, historic preservation, and organizational management/program capacity building.
The Texas Main Street Program (TMSP) will positively impact the economic vitality and thoughtful preservation of important historic resources in Texas. In addition, our work with local communities will help achieve the goals of the Texas Historical Commission. Through guidance from the TMSP, designated local Main Street programs will achieve thoughtfully designed, sensitively preserved, and economically vibrant town centers.
The mission of the TMSP is to provide technical expertise, resources, and support for Texas Main Street communities in accordance with the Main Street ApproachTM of organization, economic vitality, design, and promotion. Using a team-centered approach, we strive to provide highly effective, individualized services to our 89 designated programs to help them reach their revitalization and preservation goals.
We believe that a community’s unique historic resources are valuable, and that the appropriate preservation of these resources contributes to the community’s overall economic, social, and cultural vitality. We also believe that a sound organization—one that seeks to cultivate volunteers, foster organizational partnerships, and create inclusive communities—is necessary for true transformation. Embracing these beliefs, the staff of the Texas Main Street Program shall exhibit great passion and enthusiasm for assisting local stakeholders as they revitalize their historic town centers. We view ourselves as public servants working in harmony with local communities as they strive to meet their objectives.
A program's work should be structured around the Four Points under the The Main Street 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 89 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 $4.5 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 45,000 jobs and 10,500 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 Main Street America, 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, Amy Hammons or call 512-463-5758.