Welcome to Texas Main Street – Re-Imagine Linden’s Downtown

Have you thought about how to re-imagine Linden’s Downtown?

If so, your dreams came true when First Lady of Texas, Mrs. Cecilia Abbott, in official ceremonies on April 18th recognized Linden as a Texas Main Street.  Mrs. Abbott delivered a congratulatory address to Linden citizens and then unveiled an architectural rendering of a more vibrant and consumer-friendly street scene on the west side of the Courthouse Square. 

Entitled “View Along Main Street,” the rendering is the first of a series to be created for Linden by the Texas Main Street Design Team.

The Texas Main Street Program (TMSP) provides historic downtowns the opportunity to re-develop through public and private investment.  Operated in Texas by the Texas Historical Commission, TMSP is one of the oldest and largest in the nation, with 89 fully-designated communities.

After a rigorous and competitive application process, Linden was chosen in January 2017 as one of two designated Main Street communities.  In Texas, Linden is among the three with the smallest populations in the entire program.

TMSP’S mission is to provide technical expertise, resources and support for Texas communities in the preservation and economic revitalization of historic downtowns and commercial districts.

The First Lady was joined by state and local officials, local business owners, volunteers, and dozens of residents eager to see the Main Street vision for Linden. Ms. Abbott commented that Linden’s commitment to historic preservation is apparent, pointing out that the historic Cass County Courthouse was restored with funding assistance from the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Courthouse Preservation Program.

Texas Historical Commission (THC) Vice Chairman John Crain  stated in his remarks that “historic preservation isn’t just about the past – it’s about developing economic opportunity for the future”.  He announced that the Linden Heritage Foundation has qualified for a grant from the Preservation Trust Fund, also managed by THC, to develop a professional restoration plan for the Old Linden Firehouse.

Mr. Crain then announced THC’s new “Town Square Initiative” which uses an online portal – Downtowntx.org – to attract potential real estate investors/developers and business owners/entrepreneurs from other places who may want to consider under-utilized or vacant historic properties in Texas Main Street towns.  Linden has its own dedicated page on this website to feature available Main Street properties.

Twelve Main Street cities, including Linden, will help celebrate and promote DowntownTX.org by hosting local Imagine the Possibilities tours.  Linden’s tour will begin at the Linden City Hall on Friday, May 19th at 5 p.m..

Selected properties featured on each city’s DowntownTX.org page will be open and accessible to the public, and tour attendees can obtain additional information on downtown development and business resources at a central gathering point.

To get the Main Street ball rolling, the Linden Heritage Foundation hosted a series of field trips and community forums with Mount Vernon and San Augustine to spark initial interest for the program.  Main Street staff and board members from those two cities fielded a range of questions about how they have turned historic buildings into unique entrepreneurial successes, attracted tourism to their town centers, dialed up local sales tax revenues, and supported the property tax base.

By fully committing to Texas Main Street, Linden also can imagine – and ultimately realize – a whole new world of progress, success, and economic development for our downtown.


Linden Main Street Community Meeting Scheduled for December 1st

tmspDebra Drescher, State Coordinator of the Texas State Main Street Program, will visit Linden Thursday to assist the City in its effort to get Linden’s new Main Street Program off to a solid start.  Accompanying Ms. Drescher will be Sarah Marshall, small business specialist in the Texas Main Street Program.

The public meeting is sponsored by the City of Linden and will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 1 at the Linden Senior Citizen Center.

Ms. Drescher will deliver a PowerPoint presentation on procedures and resources of program participation.  The Texas Historical Commission recently named Linden a 2017 Main Street City (one of only two).  We join 88 other Main Street cities across the State in the nationally acclaimed program designed to promote downtown revitalization through improved organization, architectural design services, and focused retail promotion.


City Council Tables Texas Main Street Program Resolution

LindenCityLimitSignAt their May 9, 2016 meeting, Linden City Council once again postponed action on Resolution 03-16 regarding application the Texas Main Street Program.  A copy of the Resolution discussed initially on April 11, 2016 follows.

“WHEREAS, the City of Linden had decided to invest in revitalization the downtown business district.

WHEREAS the historic nature of the City of Linden would make it a good candidate for entering Texas Main Street Program.

WHEREAS the Texas Main Street program requires an extensive application the City Administrator will assemble a committee capable of completing all the separate portions of the application and submitting it prior to the deadline for 2017 Main Street acceptance.

WHEREAS the program requires a budget commitment of three years the City will commit to a $50,000 annual budget including both salary and initial budget for a new Main Street Manager.  To keep the City budget balanced the City will regretfully no longer be able to pay 1/3rd of the Linden Economic Development Corporation’s salaries.  The City will also attempt to establish an Emergency Services District.  Total savings in these two changes will equal or exceed the $50,000 requirement.  Note that there is a risk in that the ESD could be voted down and the City would still have to count on other cuts and growth in tax revenue to make up the remaining $20,000.

NOW THEREFORE the City of Linden does approve this application and the associated budget actions to continue operations with a balanced budget.”

Jerry Harp has given the Foundation permission to use his Facebook post from May 10, 2016 which provided the following description of the Council proceedings.

“The Linden City Council met in regular session on May 9 at the Senior Center. There were about 25 people in attendance. After the opening prayer and pledge, Jeanie Stevens and Ruth Halleck spoke in favor of the Main Street program. Emily Braswell Henderson gave a report on LEDC finances. Sue M. Lazara questioned a $10,000 deficit noted in the printed report. Mrs. Henderson stated that she would have to get back with Sue on that.

City Administrator Bob Swisher then addressed the Main Street program, stating that to kick it off, $50,000 was needed. He suggested that $28,000 of city funds be taken from salaries paid to LEDC employees, and that the agency make up the difference from their non-city funded revenue sources. Larry Wells, LEDC board member, and Mrs. Henderson noted that removing the salary supplement would very likely hinder LEDC actions in the community. A motion to table this idea was made by Kenny Hamilton and passed 3-2. The Administrator is to meet with the LEDC board and report back in 2 weeks to a special Council session. The deadline for the complicated application for the Main Street program is July 29. Only 89 cities in Texas have been accepted. It is a BIG deal.

Mr. Swisher then presented the extensive list of goals for Linden 2025. This roadmap of improvements for the city was approved.

Joe Lovelace, Linden Heritage Foundation, presented colorful architectural renderings of how the historical fire house and water tower might look one day as funds become available. He noted that this would integrate nicely into the Main Street program.

Mr. Swisher reported that negotiations were underway with Etex to have fiber optic cable laid for city hall and the new police station, giving them much higher and more reliable internet speeds. Windstream was not being particularly co-operative.

Public works director Robert Luzio reported a major water main break had caused low pressure city wide. Due to recent rains, several major culverts had washed away, requiring asap replacement. Mr. Swisher reported that there was a chance of cost recovery from FEMA.

Alton McWaters, police chief noted there had been 28 traffic contacts, 159 calls for service, and 3 arrest during April. The department is in the process of moving into their new facilities purchased by the city from ETMC. The building is behind the closed hospital.

The meeting adjourned.”

The text of the recommendation by the Linden 2025 Committee supporting the City’s application to the Main Street Program follows.

“To Whom It May Concern: Linden City Council

Date: May 9, 2016

From: Linden 2025 Committee

Endorsement of Texas Main Street Program

These members of The Linden 2025 Committee strongly endorse and recommend that the City Council proceed immediately with the Application to the Texas Main Street Program.  This program will allow Linden to benefit from funding and programs, as well as services, such as architectural and engineerial.

Signed by: Jeanie O’Rear Stevens, Marlon Sullivan, Kay Stephens, Catherine Knapp, Ruth Halleck, Carla Surratt, Clarence Burns, and Joe Pat Early”

Linden2025 Endorsement TMSP 9May2016

Click image of letter on left to view a photograph of the original document.






The Council will reconsider the Resolution at their next meeting scheduled for May 23, 2016. It is important to make everyone aware of their actions; and encourage Linden residents to express their opinions to members of the Council and Linden Economic Development Corporation.  Help them understand that participation in the Texas Main Street Program is critical to the revitalization of Linden.


Texas Main Street: Linden Reimagined

Have you thought about how to reimagine Linden?  The Main Street America Program provides historic downtowns with the opportunity to effectively redevelop through specially-targeted public and private investment.  Operated in Texas by the Texas Historical Commission, the Texas Main Street Program (TMSP) is one of the oldest and largest in the nation, with 87 fully-designated communities.  The mission of TMSP is to provide technical expertise, resources, and support for Texas communities in the preservation and economic revitalization of historic downtowns and commercial districts.  The City of Linden has filed a Letter of Intent with the Texas Historical Commission to participate in the 2017 Texas Main Street Program.

Event participants included (left to right) Joe Lovelace, Ruth Halleck, Sue Lazara, Tracy Cox, Linda Goller, Marshall McMillan, andy Clarence Burns. Photo courtesy of Jo Anna Duncan.
Event participants included (left to right) Joe Lovelace, Ruth Halleck, Sue Lazara, Tracy Cox, Linda Goller, Marshall McMillan, andy Clarence Burns. Photo courtesy of Jo Anna Duncan.

On Monday, April 11th, the City of Linden, Linden Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and Linden Heritage Foundation (LHF) welcomed downtown-Linden business owners, members of “Linden 2025” Committee, LEDC and City officials, and LHF members to a Texas Main Street Information Event.  Tracy Cox, Main Street Director for San Augustine, Texas served as facilitator. With help from San Augustine Main Street Advisory Board Members Marshall McMillan and Linda Goller, Ms. Cox presented information on and answered questions about TMSP’s benefits to San Augustine, a city similar in size to Linden, that was awarded Texas Main Street City status in 2013.

Ms. Cox, Mr. McMillan, and Ms. Goller explained that TMSP has been a crucial tool for revitalizing the economic and social health of their community.  In addition to being the heart of local heritage and community pride, San Augustine’s historic downtown is the most important indicator of economic health.  Historic buildings are turning into prime locations for unique entrepreneurial businesses that attract tourists, keep local dollars at home, and add to the community’s sales tax collections, hotel tax, and property values.

A second Texas Main Street Information Event will be held Thursday, May 5th from 1:30 to 3 pm in the Fellowship Hall of the Linden United Methodist Church.  Carolyn Teague, Main Street Director for Mt. Vernon, Texas, will lead the program.  Everyone is welcome to attend and participate.  There will be designated seating for Linden-downtown business/property owners, members of the Linden City Council, and LEDC Board of Directors.

How do you reimagine Linden?