National Trust for Historic Preservation Names 2012 Great American Main Street Award Winners

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced today the winners of the 2012 Great American Main Street Awards® (GAMSA). The National Trust Main Street Center’s annual GAMSA winners are recognized for their exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing the nation’s historic Main Street commercial districts by using the National Trust’s Main Street Four-Point Approach®.

Honored at the Main Street Awards Ceremony during the National Main Streets Conference in Baltimore, the 2012 winners have succeeded in generating economic vitality, fostering a unique sense of place, and engaging key stakeholders in planning their community’s future. Under strong leadership by a local Main Street organization and in close partnership with residents, the business community and local government, these communities have excelled at both cultivating economic development and retaining the character and historic fabric that makes that community special. 

The five winners are:

  • Bath, Me.: Main Street Bath has helped the “City of Ships” evolve into Maine’s “cool little city” by strengthening locally-owned businesses, promoting a rich calendar of events and highlighting its shipbuilding heritage.
  • Culpeper, Va.: Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. has asserted this historic downtown’s appeal by investing in its southern charm and eclectic small businesses—helping to guide its recovery from a 2011 earthquake.
  • Jacksonville, Ill.: Jacksonville Main Street helped its downtown reverse ill-fated urban renewal “fixes” from the 1970s to become a hub for the community, including a vibrant town square and robust small businesses.
  • Valley Junction/West Des Moines, Iowa: The Historic Valley Junction Foundation has scaled significant obstacles, including major shopping mall competition, a name change and devastating floods to put Valley Junction/West Des Moines firmly on the map as a family-friendly shopping and entertainment destination.
  • Washington, Mo.: Downtown Washington, Inc. has taken a leading role in shaping Washington’s future, including acquiring and operating its beloved post office, developing upper floor housing, and restoring the historic Outdoor Civic Center.

The winners were selected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, representatives from government and foundations, and journalists who are active in community economic development and historic preservation.

“These communities demonstrate the artful balance between ambitious plans for the future and respect for a community’s heritage and character,” said Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust Main Street Center. “They provide excellent case studies on how to persevere in times of hardship or uncertainty—whether it is flooding, earthquakes, post office closures or economic decline—to chart a community’s bright future that all stakeholders can support.”

GAMSA semifinalists and winners demonstrate exemplary achievement in the process of strengthening their downtowns and commercial districts based on the following selection criteria:

  • Active involvement of the public and private sectors;
  • Broad-based community support for the revitalization effort;
  • Quality of achievements over time;
  • Innovative solutions to significant problems;
  • Commitment to historic preservation;
  • Evolving track record of successful commercial district revitalization;
  • Comprehensive revitalization effort: activity in all four points of the Main Street Four-Point Approach® to commercial district revitalization;
  • Economic impact of the revitalization program; and
  • Successful small business development.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places., @SavingPlaces