Washington, D.C.’s H Street Honored with 2013 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 Washington, D.C.’s H Street was chosen as a 2013 Great American Main Street Awards® (GAMSA) winner. Recognized as a leader in implementing the National Trust’s Main Street Four-Point Approach®, embracing sound historic preservation practices and building strategic partnerships, H Street Main Street was honored today at the annual National Main Streets Conference in New Orleans.

The annual GAMSA awards, given out by the National Trust’s subsidiary, the National Main Street Center, Inc., recognize exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing the nation’s historic Main Street commercial districts. A nonprofit organization, H Street Main Street (HSMS) operates under the guidelines of the National Main Street Center and is managed by DC Main Streets—a program established by the government of the District of Columbia and spearheaded by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD).

H Street Main Street formed in 2002 to reverse decades of crime and urban decay, which set in after the riots following the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  By preserving the district’s historic character, actively involving its multicultural community and cultivating local businesses, HSMS has reduced vacancy from 30 percent to 10 percent, helped 132 new businesses open, and attracted more than $140 million in public and private investment. Under its leadership, and with strong technical and financial assistance ($1.5 million over ten years) from DSLBD, H Street has earned nationwide attention as an arts and entertainment district without abandoning its proud past as a historically African-American community.

“H Street Main Street is proving that it is possible to balance the needs of existing residents and business-owners while embracing new development and attracting new residents and visitors,” says Valecia Crisafulli, acting director of the National Main Street Center. “By giving the community a strong voice in shaping its future while promoting tools to preserve its heritage, H Street Main Street has brought about remarkable, sustainable change in 10 short years.” 

“H Street Main Street highlights the spirit of cooperation between residents, city officials, and small businesses,” says DSLBD Interim Director, Robert Summers. “Small businesses play an important function in the growth of our city and H Street Main Street is a great representation of the positive impact they have made. DSLBD is honored to be part of such an exciting time.” 

The other two 2013 winners are Rochester Downtown Development Authority in Rochester, Mich. and Ocean Springs Main Street in Ocean Springs, Miss. Winners were selected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals  and governmental agency representatives who are active in community economic development and historic preservation. Criteria for winning include: active involvement of the public and private sectors; broad-based community support for the revitalization effort; innovative solutions to significant problems and commitment to historic preservation. 

To learn about previous GAMSA winners, visit http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/awards/gamsa/.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach® is a proven methodology for historic preservation-based economic development. It was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation more than 30 years ago and has been implemented by 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