Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

January 12, 2014

Main Street is celebrating a milestone

ENID, Okla. — Twenty years ago, the metal facade covering downtown Enid’s brick buildings started to come off, thanks to the efforts of the nonprofit Main Street Enid.

Throughout 1995, workers standing on scaffolding removed the modern metal facades from buildings from Washington to Grand built in the the first decade of the 1900s.

As they toiled away and the bricks hidden underneath revealed themselves, downtown Enid readopted its turn-of-the-century face.

This ongoing saga of photos and stories can be seen online each Monday on Main Street Enid’s website, in “Celebrating Main Street Enid: 20 Years in 20 Weeks,” highlighting the nonprofit’s most notable accomplishments and milestones.

Today begins the second week of the program’s 20, focusing on the year 1995.

During Main Street’s 20 years of existence, downtown Enid has seen more than $35.5 million privately reinvested by individuals and businesses to improve the area. The city of Enid also has spent $9 million on downtown revitalization.

Main Street Enid’s former director, Lindy Chambers, remembered when these initial facade efforts proved a catalyst for more downtown improvements.

“I think the architecture is a backdrop to the businesses that are going to have to prove themselves,” she said.

Main Street Enid’s current director, Kelly Tompkins, hopes the program encourages future facade renovations and improvements.

“It’s to let people know what an organization like Main Street Enid can do and to thank people for all the work they’ve done over the years. So, hopefully, people see the variety of things that have been accomplished downtown,” Tompkins said. “Downtowns are what make each city special and unique. It is the heart of our city.”

In the program’s 20th week on May 31, Main Street will host an anniversary bash in the Hiland Tower lobby, 302 N. Independence.

A premier program

Main Street Enid’s projects involve beautification, business recruitments and promotional campaigns for the city.

In its earlier days in the’90s, the nonprofit focused much of its efforts on removing buildings’ metal facades and uncovering the bricks, as well as improving streetscapes, Tompkins said. It also was involved in the creation of Adventure Quest, David Allen Memorial Ballpark and Enid Symphony Center.

Main Street Enid’s biggest annual events include the Enid Lights Up the Plains holiday-lighting festival in November, the Jazz Stroll music festival in May, and Oktoberfest. The organization spent about $31,000 on its annual events in 2013, an increase from $24,000 in 2012, Tompkins said.

Main Street spent about $5,000 on monthly First Fridays, during which businesses and restaurants stay open later and live music is performed all over downtown.

Main Street has more than 175 business partners, Tompkins said.

Enid became an official Main Street city in 1994, when development had refocused attention away from Enid’s fading downtown and toward strip mall areas, Chambers said.

The organization is part of the National Main Street Center in Washington, D.C., and the Oklahoma State Department’s Main Street Program.

Since then, Enid’s nonprofit has been recognized on local, state and national levels as a premier Main Street program.

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