Berryville Main Street Celebrates 25 Years

Guest blogger Sue Ross, Executive Director of Berryville Main Street, has 10 years of Main Street experience and recently returned to Berryville to lead a refreshed program, creating new partnerships and an enhanced marketplace. 

Berryville Main Street turned 25! We celebrated with bluegrass, local food, and friends in a restored downtown dairy barn.  Started in 1992, Berryville Main Street successfully sought Virginia Main Street community designation and National Main Street Accreditation to encourage the growth and revitalization of their small town.

As one of the oldest continuously designated Main Street communities in Virginia, Berryville has seen numerous building improvements, new businesses, job creation, and retail promotions resulting in a revitalized downtown. Successful partnerships include Town and County, community leaders, businesses, area schools and nonprofits.  In 2016, Berryville Main Street was recognized with a Virginia Main Street Milestone Award celebrating more than $30 million in private investment.

Berryville Main Street 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Barns of Rose Hill, February 28, 2017

Berryville Main Street 25th
Anniversary Celebration at the Barns of Rose Hill, February 28, 2017

In these 25 years, many memories have been created with events like Barn and Blue Moon Dances, Monthly and Holiday Craft Markets, Arbor Day clean-ups, Volunteer Brick Awards, and entrepreneurial ventures like the Fire House Gallery.  Berryville Main Street also spearheaded the restoration of the Barns of Rose Hill as a cultural center and visitor center.  Much of this would not have happened without the unfailing volunteer commitment of Susi Bailey, who was recognized for her service to downtown with a handcrafted garden bench from Smallwood Woodworking.

Berryville Main Street has certainly seen the ebb and flow of volunteers, board members, government officials and businesses over the years, but the vision remains constant:  Keep Berryville a vibrant, vital, unique, attractive, and family friendly place to shop, enjoy and live.

Thank you to everyone who has been a champion for downtown and supported Berryville Main Street!

Downtown Improvement Grants Awarded

Five Designated Virginia Main Street (VMS) Communities have been awarded 2011 Downtown Improvment Grants.  This year, VMS communities served by CSX Transportation rail lines were eligible for a match of up to $5,000 from the corporation, pushing the awards from $2,500 to a total of $7,500. 

Waynesboro and Winchester will receive CSX Transportation VMS Downtown Improvement Grants. Communities receiving VMS Downtown Improvement Grants are Berryville, Blackstone and Marion. The discrete projects must be completed by December of this year and were selected due to their capacity for impact, the level of volunteer involvement and the degree to which they leverage additional resources.  The following projects were selected from among the 17 submitted:

Waynesboro:  A downtown riverside observation deck along a key section of the South River will strengthen the connection between the community, the district, regional outdoor recreation and quality of life strategies. Several river access facilities and greenway trail resources intersect at the site.  ($7,500)

Winchester:  A flexible staging platform will be developed and purchased as part of a coordinated events strategy for Old Town Winchester. The professional staging system will create an enhanced audience experience at community events and performances.  ($7,500)

Berryville:  A downtown design improvements project furthers recommendations by the Virginia Main Street architect to engage property owners in simple district improvements. Grant products will include planters, a door improvement contest and a wayfinding kiosk. ($2,500)

Blackstone:  A historical markers project engages property owners, local historians and the Town in identifying and communicating the stories of the historical assets that shape this historic commercial district. ($2,500)

Marion:  A largely volunteer based “Big Surprise” façade improvement program will dramatically improve the appearances of three buildings, two of which are owned by local nonprofits. In a quick burst of activity, old facades will be removed, with basic improvements begun over the weekend.  ($2,500)

Main Street Communities Bring History to Life

From the first American colonies to the modern college town, many Virginia communities have a rich history to share. Two VMS communities have recently been recognized for transforming aspects of their pasts into valuable assets for their downtown neighborhoods.

Berryville Main Street has received the Virginia Downtown Development Association’s 2010 Building Development and Improvements Award of Merit  for its Fire House Gallery & Shop. The gallery, which opened on January 8, is housed in a restored 1930’s firehouse. While the primary focus of the gallery is artwork, it also contains a “Resource Room” to inform visitors about the Berryville Historic District.

In addition to preserving a historic building, the Fire House Gallery has already generated $20,000 in sales and created three new jobs. Over 400 people have purchased from the gallery, and it is a major draw to the Berryville Historic District for residents and visitors alike.

Harrisonburg is taking a different approach to sharing its history with the community. The city recently dedicated three new Civil War Trails markers downtown. The markers stand at the former sites of Harrisonburg’s Confederate General Hospital, Hill’s Hotel, and the Soldiers’ Cemetery at Woodbine. Adding these new Civil War Trails markers will inform the community and visitors of the stories of life in Harrisonburg during the Civil War. The markers were funded through a grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.

Want to stay up-to-date on historic preservation efforts in Virginia? The Department of Historic Resources distributes a weekly newsletter that deal with preservation, history, architecture, archaeology, planning issues, museums, conservation and other related topics in Virginia and elsewhere. To sign up, please contact Randy Jones.