Main Street program helps TN towns revitalize downtowns - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Main Street program helps TN towns revitalize downtowns

Posted: Updated:
PORTLAND, TN (WSMV) -

Lower Broadway is a huge draw for Nashville tourism, helping fuel the local economy. Now, some other Middle Tennessee communities are trying to capitalize on their own unique assets, hoping for the same success.

That includes Portland, TN, which was once a major stop on the railroad. It holds a lot of childhood memories for Mayor Ken Wilber.

"They would have a bag of mail and would put it up on a pole right there beside the railroad track, and a hook would come out and grab the bag," Wilber said.

And Wilber said the Moye-Green House was at the center of it all. Built in 1878, Moye-Green was the town's first boarding house, welcoming hundreds of tired and hungry travelers.

That rich history is what landed the old house on the state's top 10 list of endangered historic preservation sites.

Now a dilapidated shell, the wood on the house is rotting and paint is chipping. The roof is also in desperate need of repair.

But the new designation has already given the city the $15,000 it needs to begin restoring the old boarding house.

"Downtowns are wonderful places. They're the heart of a community," said Todd Morgan, director of the Tennessee Main Street Program, with the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Morgan oversees the program that offers grants to communities to help revitalize downtown districts.

"To really be competitive, if you're recruiting businesses and residents and so forth, you need to stand out. And what we do is work with communities to help them tell their stories," Morgan said.

Last year, the 23 Main Street programs created more than 600 new jobs and recorded nearly $60 million in public/private investment in their downtown districts.

Thanks to the grant, Portland is now on its way.

"This house will bring back some of that importance back to our regional history and kind of where we came from," Wilber said.

The Tennessee Main Street Program is selecting six new communities to work with. Applications are due April 30.

For more information, visit: http://www.tennesseemainstreet.org.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow