AUGUSTA, Maine — The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced today that Bath, Maine was chosen as a 2012 Great American Main Street Awards (GAMSA) winner. Recognized as a leader in implementing the Main Street Four-Point Approach, embracing sound historic preservation principles and building strategic partnerships, Main Street Bath was honored at the Main Street Awards Ceremony during the National Main Streets Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
The National Trust Main Street Center’s annual GAMSA award recognizes exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing the nation’s historic Main Street commercial districts. Using the Main Street Approach as its guide, Main Street Bath has helped the city’s downtown use its shipbuilding heritage to stay relevant in the face of competition from area big box stores, and to overcome the disadvantage of a highway overpass that diverted traffic away from the commercial district. Downtown Bath is booming again, thanks to a strong team of partners, a lively mix of independent retailers in historic storefronts, a “can-do” spirit and a clear sense of what makes Bath unique.
“Bath is an excellent example of how, through partnerships and perseverance, a community can overcome seemingly overwhelming obstacles—in this case, the Route 1 viaduct, and competition from “big boxes”—to create a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown,” says Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust Main Street Center. “Main Street Bath has given residents and tourists alike a host of reasons to exit the highway and explore its diverse businesses, wealth of historic architecture and authentic maritime heritage.”
Jennifer Geiger, Executive Director of Main Street Bath stated, “This award is a testament not just to the good work of Main Street Bath on behalf of Bath’s downtown, but represents a win for all Maine downtowns, which are quintessential New England and share so many assets in common with Bath.”
“In 1977, Bath received the National Trust President’s Award for its exemplary cooperative preservationist achievement in downtown restoration. That was the same year the Main Street initiative was piloted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Now, 35 years later, Maine’s City of Ships and Main Streets across the country are thriving, dynamic places people are celebrating,” stated Roxanne Eflin, Director of the Maine Downtown Center and Maine’s Main Street State Coordinator. She continued. “Bath was one of our original four Main Street Maine communities and since its designation in 2001, has been a premier downtown leader statewide with over $20 million in new investment, 235 net new jobs and over 51,000 volunteer hours.”
The other four 2012 winners are: Culpeper, Va.; Jacksonville, Ill.; Valley Junction/West Des Moines, Iowa and Washington, Mo. Winners were selected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, governmental agency representatives who are active in community economic development and historic preservation. To learn about previous GAMSA winners, visit http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/awards/gamsa/.
GAMSA winners demonstrate exemplary achievement in the process of strengthening their downtowns and commercial districts based on the following selection criteria:
• Active involvement of the public and private sectors;
• Broad-based community support for the revitalization effort;
• Quality of achievements over time;
• Innovative solutions to significant problems;
• Commitment to historic preservation;
• Evolving track record of successful commercial district revitalization;
• Comprehensive revitalization effort: activity in all four points of the Main Street Four-Point Approach® to commercial district revitalization;
• Economic impact of the revitalization program; and
• Successful small business development.
The Main Street Four-Point Approach is a proven methodology for historic preservation-based economic development that was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation 30 years ago and is used in more than 2,000 communities throughout the U.S.