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Indiana Main Street Program

State's Main Street organization
to hold conference in Madison

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

MADISON Ind. (January 2004) – The Indiana Main Street Annual Conference has been scheduled to be held this year in Madison, according to Madison Main Street Program Director Brad Miller. Representatives from the state group are expected to visit the historic river town this month to meet with Main Street officials and to discuss details about the conference, typically held each year in the fall.

Brad Miller

Brad Miller

Last year, the conference was held in Terre Haute, where Main Street representatives from around the state gathered for three days of workshops and forums. Miller attended the conference, along with Main Street merchants Nancy Gruner of Whimsy and Annalisa Strickland of The Princess and the Bead. Gruner and Strickland were selected to attend the conference compliments of Madison’s Main Street Program from a drawing held during its Oct. 30 open house.
Once again, Madison received plenty of recognition at the conference for its substantial contribution to the state’s Main Street initiative and for its historic preservation efforts. “There’s been a lot of interest in Madison and what we have to offer,” Miller said. “They look to Madison as sort of the jewel in Main Street’s crown.”
Also held in conjunction with the annual state Main Street Conference this year will be the annual Cornelius O’Brien Conference on Historic Preservation, sponsored by Indiana University and the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.
Held concurrently with the Main Street conference for the first time this year, the event will provide a forum for the critical examination and discussion of historic preservation issues and for increasing public awareness of historic preservation, officials said.

Madison Main Street

Photo by Don Ward

Main Street in Madison, Ind.

Separate from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which will hold its annual conference this year in Louisville, Ky., Indiana’s Main Street Program is managed by the Indiana Department of Commerce. Its goal is “to improve all aspects of the downtown or central business district, producing both tangible and intangible benefits,” according to the website, www.in.gov/mainstreet/browse/index.htm.
The Madison Main Street Program Board of Directors will prepare for the coming year at an annual retreat planned this month. Board members include: Phyllis Stevens, Gerry Michl, Bob Maile, Bob Corum, Nancy Gruner, Dana Riddle, Beverly Armstrong, Trevor Lytle, Jim Hart, Kelly Shelton and Barbara Daugherty.
Ann Grahn will facilitate the retreat, which was rescheduled from November to January due to previous commitments of the organization, including in November the state conference and in December the annual “Celebration of Giving,” sponsored in conjunction with the Salvation Army.
“We’ll be working out long-range strategies for Main Street, and we’ll also be training the board of directors in their responsibilities,” said Grahn, who facilitated the Main Street Board’s retreat about three years ago and facilitated last year the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library’s community planning committee. Grahn will assist the board with their ideas for the coming year.
“To some extent it will be a brainstorming session,” said Grahn. Projects will be fine-tuned from there, she added.
Madison’s Main Street Program began initially in 1976 as a pilot project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Madison and two other towns, Galesburg, Ill., and Hot Springs, S.D., were selected for the pilot program, which ultimately spawned a nationwide initiative to spur downtown revitalization. From the program was developed a four-point approach: organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring, to Main Street efforts.
In 1989, Madison submitted an application to the Indiana State Main Street Program, according to Link Ludington. Now curator of Lanier Mansion, Ludington was one of the original board members of the program, which became incorporated in 1994. Ludington remained on the board and chaired several Main Street committees for several years. Several early initiatives of the Main Street program included assisting local property owners with storefront renovations and certified rehabilitation of historic buildings, and with downtown promotional efforts such as the “Music in the Park” series.
A tangible piece of Main Street’s accomplishments was a brochure produced in 1994 called “A User-Friendly Guide to Fixing Up Old Buildings in Downtown Madison,” according to Ludington. “At the time, it was about the only thing available for widespread distribution in Madison. That alone was a major accomplishment,” Ludington said.
However, the most obvious result of the Main Street Program’s initiatives is the shining example Madison now sets for historic towns across the nation.
“Whatever you could list as specific things that the Main Street Program could say they did, the other thing is the wider influence that the (program) might have had,” said Ludington. He cited the example set for inspiring people to do things a certain way.

• For more information about the Madison Main Street Program, call Miller at (812) 265- 3270.

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