Historic preservationists from around the area gathered in Waxahachie on Monday evening to learn how to keep the past alive and breathing.
The training was held at the newly restored MKT Train Depot in downtown by the Texas Historical Commission Main Street Program. Leading the two-hour training was assistant state coordinator Jill Robinson.
“All of our Main Street programs work with volunteer boards that have to be trained because board members turn over every few years. They kind of rotate on and off. So we have got people here from Waxahachie, Corsicana and people from Ferris coming. I think that we will have about 20 to 25 people here,” Robin son said.
“We are educating people on the four points of Main Street,” she said. “Those points are promotions, design, which is all of the architecture and historic buildings in your downtown. Then you have economic restructuring and organization. Every program has four committees that establish those four points and focus on those four points.”
Robinson said the training emphasized the four points along with talking about the responsibilities of volunteer boards, committee members and board members. These boards or commissions can form partnerships within the community to help move the cause and historic preservation forward.
One example she cited was how the Beaumont Main Street Program partnered with its preservation society. Over an eight-year period, by working together, the two were able to completely renovate the Jefferson Theater, which was built in the 1920s. It was a $6.5 million project, Robinson said.
“We have Main Street manager training every year and this training is for the board. I hope that my boards will learn how to better work together, how to set their goals because the downtown merchants are right in the middle of that process of setting strategic goals for the next five years,” city of Waxahachie heritage preservation officer Anita Williamson said.
“I’m also hoping this will give them some tools to use in developing their five-year plan, along with that, setting the goals that they want to achieve in Waxahachie for the next five years,” she said.
Williamson said the four points of the Main Street Program work together in the revitalization process to help retain businesses and bring new ones to the area. The training was held in Waxahachie because of its central location for participants from other cities.
Robinson added that downtown is very much like a mall because it requires constant maintenance and businesses come and go. The Main Street Program tells people how to keep a downtown going and also talks about business recruitment and retention. At this time, there are 87 cities across the state who are involved in the Main Street Program, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
For more information about the Texas Main Street Program, visit its website at www.thc.state.tx.us/mainstreet/msdefault.shtml.
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