The first Great American Main Street Awards were selected from among 240 entries from 42 states. The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Center and the Edward D. Jones & Co. financial services firm are providing the $5,000 award to five communities that have brought their streets and commercial centers back to life.
The winners include the small river town of Clarksville, Mo.; downtown Dubuque, Iowa; Franklin, Tenn., near Nashville; Old Pasadena, Calif., on the edges of the Los Angeles megalopolis; and Sheboygan Falls, Wis., along Lake Michigan.
''These five communities not only recognized the indisputable vitality that our Main Streets bring to American life; they prevailed against a virtual tidal wave of devastating change,'' says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington. ''In each case, they have revived a true spirit of community and, in doing so, set the lifeblood of commerce flowing.''
Clarksville, Mo., turned around decades of decay to transform its dying downtown into a magnet for tourism.
Dubuque, Iowa, drew five disparate districts into a thriving, cohesive downtown region.
Franklin, Tenn., reversed the flow of commerce to Nashville's sprawling suburbs and rejuvenated its own city center.
Sheboygan Falls, Wis., depended on community-wide efforts to restore historic structures and revitalize the downtown district.
Old Pasadena, Calif., overcame the trend toward ''raze and rebuild'' policies and transformed historic buildings into new residences and businesses.
A panel of preservationists, urban planners, and architects served as jurors. In addition to the prize money, winning communities will receive plaques and road signs marking the award.