Palestine’s Main Street program is hosting a Meet and Greet event at Old Town Vintage & More at 306 N. Sycamore Street between 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The city’s new Main Street and Heritage Development Coordinator, Cori Conrad, and the Main Street Advisory Board invite everyone interested in learning more about the city’s Main Street program to attend.
Main Street America is a 40-year nationwide program created to revitalize historic commercial districts. The nonprofit National Main Street Center is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and provides support for communities that want to create vibrant commercial neighborhoods.
Palestine has participated in Main Street America since 1986. The Main Street District includes 44 city blocks, from the Anderson County Courthouse to the Palestine Visitor Center. The district includes historic buildings, churches, shops, businesses, and restaurants.
Conrad joined the city as heritage development coordinator in March, but began working in both roles, the heritage development and the Main Street program, in August. She says the two programs complement each other and eagerly accepts the additional responsibility. Conrad is working under Mary Raum, the city’s tourism and marketing manager.
Conrad intends to develop interest in Palestine’s Main Street by improving community involvement and communications. Currently, she is working with the Main Street Advisory Board to organize information, coordinate events, and recruit volunteers.
“My biggest goal for the Main Street program is to establish unity, and to make it a place where people come to work, live, and play,” she said. “The Main Street Program is not about one person or a board. It’s about the community getting together and really making it their own.”
Lisa Priest, a member of the Main Street Advisory Board since 2018, said Conrad’s background in history and preservation has brought new ideas to the board’s meetings.
“She’s very enthusiastic and brings a fresh perspective,” Priest said.
Board members also include Tara Farris, Martha Hunt, Jean Mollard, Tish Shade, and Sandie Thompson.
In the role of heritage development coordinator, Conrad is digitizing historical records, tours, challenges, and scavenger hunts, and has organized a resource library of images and historic documents. One current project involves creating an information collection about past activities of the Dogwood Trails Festival.
Conrad studied history and Russian at Texas A&M University, where she also worked in the archives at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. She later worked on projects at the Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore.
One of Conrad’s favorite hobbies is creating videos. She produced a video for the “Imagine the Possibilities” tour in May when it became a virtual event due to the pandemic. The video was shared by the Texas State Historical Commission and other prominent social media sites, and resulted in the sale of some properties.
Conrad hopes to continue filming videos about restoration projects and Main Street events to generate interest in revitalizing the district.
“I would love to go and talk to business owners when they’re doing construction about what their plans are, and show before and after scenes,” she said.