Jacksonville, Illinois Honored with 2012 Great American Main Street Award

National Trust for Historic Preservation Praises Excellence in Revitalization at Annual Conference

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced today that Jacksonville, Ill. was chosen as a 2012 Great American Main Street Awards® (GAMSA) winner. Recognized as a leader in implementing the Main Street Four-Point Approach®, embracing sound historic preservation practices and building strategic partnerships, Jacksonville Main Street was honored at the Main Street Awards Ceremony during the National Main Streets Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

The National Trust Main Street Center’s annual GAMSA awards recognize exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing the nation’s historic Main Street commercial districts. Jacksonville Main Street is credited with leading its downtown out of the slump that began in the 1970s. Suburban competition deflated downtown Jacksonville’s vitality and urban renewal “fixes”—such as steel sidewalk canopies and a pedestrian mall—only made matters worse. Since Jacksonville Main Street’s founding in 1998, new economic activity has poured in, resulting in 57 new or expanded businesses, including restaurants and specialty retailers, and 131 new jobs. Vacancies have decreased from 27 percent to 7 percent.

“In a little over a decade, Jacksonville has been transformed from the epitome of what not to do to a downtown to an outstanding example of what cooperation and perseverance can achieve,” says Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust Main Street Center.  “We applaud Jacksonville Main Street’s close working relationship with the city, business owners and residents and their success in turning downtown into the ‘place to be.’”

The other four 2012 winners are: Bath, Me.; Culpeper, Va.; Valley Junction/West Des Moines, Iowa and Washington, Mo. Winners are selected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, governmental agency representatives who are active in community economic development and historic preservation. To learn about previous GAMSA winners, visit http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/awards/gamsa/.

GAMSA 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.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach® is a proven methodology for historic preservation-based economic development that was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation more than 30 years ago and has been used in more than 2,000 communities throughout the U.S.



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