2022 Main Street Awards

  • Excellence in Placemaking – A blighted alley in the heart of downtown Athens was transformed into Merchants Alley where people can relax, listen to live musical performances, and enjoy ever-changing art. A celebration of music through art, the alley features five different art components; the Playing the Sound of the Wind mural pays homage to the annual Tennessee Valley Fiddler’s Convention. Across the alley is a portrait of Brittany Howard, a Limestone County native and Grammy winner. Other components include murals to be discovered behind doors painted by local college students, selfie spots, and children’s art windows.  Athens Main Street’s Design Committee members were the recipient of this award. The committee included Tere Richardson, Trisha Black, Denise Williams, Brad Mallette, and Gary Van Wagnen.
  • Excellence in Design – The Optimal Geo Renovation was an adaptive reuse project that converted a set of historic 1930s downtown buildings into a modern commercial workspace for a growing Downtown Athens business. The project enhanced the buildings’ overall performance, quality, & aesthetics by opening up the space, creating multiple indoor/outdoor common areas, restoring original openings to bring natural light deep into the space, bringing the site & buildings up to current code & energy performance standards, and thoroughly modernized the sites’ utilities.   AMBL Studios’ Brad Mallette was the recipient of this award.
  • Excellence in Promotion – Merchants Alley Happy Hour Music Series takes place every Friday night, April 1 to July 29, 2022, and September 2 to November 18 in the newly renovated alleyway on Jefferson Street from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. This gives patrons a great start to their weekend. Each Friday, there is a new performer – allowing for various musical acts. Patrons are encouraged to come early and shop at local merchants and grab a drink in an Entertainment District cup to enjoy. At the same time, you listen to great local music and then stay downtown for a fantastic dinner at one of our local restaurants.  Athens Main Street’s Promotion Committee was the recipient of this award.  The committee included the Event Chair, Jen Baxter, Andrew Dollar, Blake Williams, Devin Simmons, Michelle Williamson, Letisha Brinkley, Amy Higginbotham, and Tere Richardson.
  • Excellence in Marketing – Downtown with Devin Videos.  The Downtown with Devin marketing effort was formed during an Athens Main Street Promotions Committee meeting. Devin Simmons serves on the committee, and we wanted to highlight his passion and energy for our downtown district.  The goal of the video series was to attract a younger, diverse audience to historic downtown Athens to shop and dine. Blake Williams produced the videos featuring Devin Simmons.
  • Main Street Hero Award – Doug Gates passed away on July 1, 2022. He was a tireless community servant. He served as an Athens Main Street Board Member for over ten years. Doug had a vision of what he wanted his beloved downtown to look like, and that was a bustling, thriving, fun place to eat, shop, work, and play. He worked for years to help make that happen, contributing his business sense and smarts to many downtown projects through Athens Main Street.

Other Awards…

2021 Excellence in Public/Private Partnership – Downtown Outdoor Dining: Athens Main Street, the City of Athens, the Limestone County Commission, and Optimal Geo partnered to greatly increase outdoor dining in downtown Athens amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Given it became extremely popular, all four worked together to create a permanent, attractive, uniform look. This partnership provided restaurants with extra capacity when they needed it most.  It also changed the look of downtown, making it more vibrant and active.

2021 Excellence in Economic Impact – The Square Arts & Entertainment District: Athens Main Street advocated for an entertainment district in downtown Athens with the Mayor, City Council, and downtown stakeholders.  The goals for the district included drawing more foot traffic to downtown and increasing attendance at events.  When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a third important goal surfaced, providing restaurants with a mechanism to recoup profits from the loss of alcohol sales due to patrons’ hesitancy to return to indoor dining.  These goals, as well as proven data on increased property values in entertainment districts, made a convincing case for adoption.

2021 Excellence in Promotion – Brittany Howard Mural Live Art Event: This event was held downtown during Athens Main Street’s first Fridays After Five in May. Street Artist, ARCY, was commissioned to paint a tribute mural of Grammy award-winning, singer-songwriter Brittany Howard.  Within six hours the mural was complete and ready to hang in Merchants Alley, upon completion of the renovation. The goal of this event was to heighten interest in the Merchants Alley Renovation Project, increase patrons for Fridays After Five & Singing on the Square, and increase reach to the 18-to-30-year-old demographic. The district retailers ran specials and stayed open late to provide shopping and browsing opportunities. Local restaurants ramped up staff in support of the increased crowds. A district architectural firm, AMBL Studios donated $2,000 to sponsor ARCY’s artist fee. A local real estate developer donated time to create the mural’s frame. Another local company donated time and trailer transportation to and from storage to the site on the Courthouse lawn for the Live Event. Blake Williams Communications oversaw promoting the live art event and Samuel Barker with Night Fish Productions produced a time-lapse video to document this historic event which can be viewed on the Athens Main Street YouTube channel.

2021 Peak Award for “Organization of the year” by Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association

2020 Main Street Hero Brad Mallette: Mr. Mallette is a hardworking architect, a talented musician, and a passionate community volunteer.  He comes to Athens via Los Angeles, where he gained a wealth of experience in commercial historic renovations.  He is a member of the Athens Main Street Board of Directors, a member of the Merchants Alley Design team, serves on the City of Athens Planning Commission, and is an integral contributor to the Pryor Park Project.

2020 Excellence in Historic Preservation: The 1871 Limestone County Bell Restoration project restored the brass bell, that for more than 100 years, rang out from the dome atop the Limestone County Courthouse hourly to mark time for residents or alert them to important news and events. The bell was found tucked away in the attic of the courthouse during recent renovations where it had lain for the past 40 years. The bell hangs from the original red oak beams that held it in place in 1871. Funds were raised by the Limestone County Commission, Limestone County Historical Society, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association, and the Frederick Martin family. Recently the bell house, which is home to the 1871 courthouse bell, and memorial benches were dedicated in honor of the late Judge David Lee Rosenau Jr.  Rosenau remains the longest-serving judge in Limestone County history.

2020 Excellence in Fundraising: Athens Main Street saw the need to build a program of ongoing support at a higher level than basic business memberships. In addition, sought to solidify a base of influential advocates within the community. Over the last two years, over $25,000 was raised through the Athens Main Street Stakeholder Program. Passionate advocacy for Downtown and for Athens Main Street was one of the important outcomes of the Stakeholder Program. Additionally, Athens Main Street gained two excellent Board Members and a number of active committee members, all from the ranks of our Stakeholders. 

2020 Community Award – Main Street Hero: Probably some of the biggest Downtown advocates in our community, the Black family contribute much of their time and talents to the betterment of our Main Street District. Shane Black has served as the Athens Main Street Board President for the past three years and as an active board member for a number of years prior, Trisha Black was the Director of the Spirit of Athens (which later became Athens Main Street) for eight years. Gayle Black (Shane’s Mother) serves as a Design Committee member with Athens Main Street and on the Athens Limestone Beautification Board. Service to our community is a Family Tradition in every sense of the term.

2019 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Planning and Public Space presented to the City of Athens in the Streetscape Improvements to the Square. The project included a number of improvements to the Square of Downtown Athens. Pedestrian safety and handicap accessibility were greatly improved through the addition of bulb-outs reducing the amount of time required to walk across traffic, ADA compliance sidewalk ramps and bumps, as well as new historically appropriate lamp posts that provide energy-efficient lighting for pedestrians. Additionally, the project included electrical boxes on all four corners of the Courthouse to provide power to festivals and events, green space was added to the sidewalks thru planting grass and shade trees.

2019 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Placemaking presented to Athens City Schools Pop-Up Park. An Athens City Schools program, housed in a historic building in our downtown, took the alley on as a part of their Project Based Learning curriculum during the Fall. Students designed a Fall themed backdrop to address the negatives of the space and highlight the positives. They installed string lights to make the space welcoming at night, sourced chairs to invite people to linger.

2019 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Building Design presented to building owner Wayne Kuykendall with the complete interior and exterior renovation of 109 South Marion Street. The project was begun in 2017 and conducted over two years. The project culminated with the expansion of Willow Cottage Antiques to the upstairs and rear of the building in June 2018.

2019 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Public and Private Partnerships presented to the Limestone County Commission for the several partnerships of public use of their properties but also work with organizations to provide improvements that enhance the experiences of Downtown.

2019 Main Street Alabama Community Award: Main Street Hero presented to Blake Williams. Blake has been a volunteer with Athens Main Street as our social media guru for over three years. Blake constantly challenges us to be thinking and planning for the next promotion activity. 

2018 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Architectural Design Award presented to the Limestone County Archives.

2018 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Historic Preservation Award Excellence in Historic Preservation presented to The Judge James Horton Monument Committee.

2018 Main Street Alabama Community Award – Clements High School Key Club for volunteering at over 50+ Athens, Huntsville and Rogersville events, including events that support their high school and local elementary school.

2017 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Architectural Design – First Presbyterian Church won for the renovation of the former Goodyear store, circa 1953, into the Revival building on Washington Street.

2017 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Historic Preservation – The Limestone County Courthouse, circa 1918, won for the restoration project that addressed growth and safety needs while maintaining historic integrity.

2017 Main Street Alabama Excellence in Planning and Public Space Award – The Athens Street Department won for its pedestrian railroad crossing on Market Street where steps and a handicap accessible ramp were added.

2017 Main Street Alabama Community Award – The Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission won for engaging high school students in civic and community service programs.

2016 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Fundraising” for the event A High Cotton Homecoming with Roger Murrah and Friends

2016 Main Street Alabama “Community Award” for Athens-Limestone Community Association

2016 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Business Promotions” for Fridays After Five

2016 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Public/Private Partnerships” for projects done with Lowe’s of Athens

2016 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Architectural Design” for the City of Athens and its new City Hall

2015 Peak Award for  “Organization of the year” by Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association

2014 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Promotion” for Athens Saturday Market 

Received State Certification for Athens Saturday Market in 2014

2014 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Fundraising” for Dinner in the Orchard event featuring Alabama Shakes

2014 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Volunteer Development” 

2014 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Private/Public Partnerships” for work with H.C. Blake on High Cotton Arts 

2014 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Business Promotion” for Sippin’ Cider 

2014 SOA Director, Trisha Black, Main Street Alabama Leadership Award

2013 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Promotion” for Athens Grease Festival 

2013 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Public/Private Partnerships” for collaboration on downtown improvement projects with Athens Rotary 

2013 Main Street Alabama “Excellence in Promotion” for Athens Grease Festival

2012 Athens Grease Festival  Named “one of Alabama’s oddest festivals” by