Oklahoma | 2001 Great American Main Street Award® Winner | Posted: 4/2/2001
Prior to 1978, downtown Enid prospered with busy retail shops and professional offices. But as in many American cities, downtown Enid "modernized" its buildings in an effort to compete with new shopping centers. Most of downtown's historic facades disappeared under aluminum slipcovers.
During the 1980s, the agriculture and oil industries collapsed. These factors, combined with the development of a shopping mall on the west side of town, spurred retailers and professionals to leave downtown Enid en masse.
Starting with streetscapes and slipcover removals, Main Street Enid began its downtown revitalization in 1994. The Main Street promotion committee organized a full calendar of special events and retail promotions to show residents that downtown was not dead.
Main Street Enid turned a former grocery warehouse into Adventure Quest, the nation's largest outdoor learning playground and hands-on arts and science learning center. Twelve thousand volunteers worked to create what is now Oklahoma's most popular children's destination.
Several white elephant buildings have been revitalized. The most dramatic project, Symphony Hall, is located in an old Masonic Temple whose two performance halls and elaborate Egyptian-style lobby had been vacant for 40 years. The Enid Symphony raised more than $1 million for the renovation of their new performing arts center.
Main Street Enid has been an economic boon for downtown. Enid proudly boasts 34 façade renovations since 1994, representing more than $300,000 of investment. More than 600 new jobs have been created while 56 businesses have either opened or expanded into additional space. Investment from public and private sectors totals $14 million. Today, 2900 employees shop and dine in the district.
Main Street Enid has transformed the central business district into the community's cultural, historical and recreational center. New restaurants, restored building facades, exciting retail and numerous attractions have made downtown once again bustle with enthusiasm and economic prosperity.