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Danville, Kentucky – Main Street

Main Streets 2017: Kentucky

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Danville’s Main Street delivers on the promise of a downtown as a place to gather, have fun, and build a sense of community. When this small Kentucky city earned a Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the accolade “honored the work of volunteers and city officials who came together to rehabilitate and beautify parts of downtown,” says livability.com. “A collective $52 million was spent on renovation and preservation in the 1990s and has paid off with 110 new businesses opening and the creation of more than 300 new jobs.”

Art is a major supplier of downtown’s energy. The Community Arts Center on West Main lives in the city’s original post office, a landmark 1909 structure that was refurbished with much community support in 2004. Now “the epicenter of Danville’s rich and vibrant Arts District,” according to its website, the Arts Center features galleries, studios, and classrooms.

A block off Main on Walnut Street is Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, whose two theaters host concerts, dance, musicals, opera and college events. Just around the corner from Main on 2nd Street is the West T. Hill Community Theater, a venue for live local productions.

A vibrant downtown offers an abundance of activities for families, and Danville has some really good ones. Each June, the four-day Great American Brass Band Festival features brass ensembles that “span the widest range of brass styles and performing groups — from historical bands of the Civil War to modern, large-scale brass and wind bands,” says the festival’s website. The event’s signature parade steps off from South Main Street, and the Great American Art Festival, a new component of the event, showcases juried national and regional artists displaying and discussing their work.

Danville also has its summer Lawn Chair Theatre, with family friendly movies in Constitution Square Park, an easy walk from Main Street. And around Halloween time, there’s a performance by the Thriller Zombies on Main.

“Main Street has become a vibrant shopping district in Danville,” says livability.com, and its centerpiece is three connected buildings known as The Hub. A downtown department store for 80 years until 1995, the renovated buildings are now home to Centre College’s bookstore and the Hub Coffee House and Cafe. Stop into the cafe to get ready to explore Main with an organic coffee and some nourishment. You’re going to need it!

All photos courtesy of Downtown Danville

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Harrodsburg, Kentucky – Main Street

Main Streets 2016: Kentucky

Drive a few hours into the heart of bluegrass country and you’ll cross Main Street in Harrodsburg, one of Kentucky’s oldest communities. Its churches, restaurants and community gathering spots make Main Street the historic focal point of Harrodsburg, which according to Best Choice Reviews has one of the “50 Best Small Town Downtowns in America.”

Founded just before the American Revolution, Harrodsburg was the first settlement in Kentucky, and the downtown brings its history to life. Old Fort Harrod State Park, two blocks from Main on College Street, features a full-scale replica of the fort that James Harrod built in 1774, with cabins, homemade furniture, tools and agricultural implements. Costumed actors bring Fort Harrod to life, giving craftwork and farm demonstrations from April to October.

Also in the park are the Lincoln Marriage Temple, where President Lincoln’s parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, were married in 1806, and the Mansion Museum, a Greek Revival home built in 1812 that now spotlights indigenous and Civil War-era artifacts. If you’re in the mood to be spooked, check out the Harrodsburg Ghost Walk, a one-mile tour of historic downtown led by guides dressed in 1850s garb.

There’s much more than history to downtown Harrodsburg — there are shopping, dining and sweet treats as well. Browse handcrafted furniture, antiques and vintage kitchenware at the Old Country Store and grab a bite to eat at the Blue Moon Café, a charming spot that has maintained the building’s historic façade. Indulge yourself at Kentucky Fudge Company, an ice cream and treat shop in the space that once housed Harrodsburg’s old-time pharmacy and soda fountain.

Like other Southern towns, churches are the heart and soul of community life in Harrodsburg, and Harrodsburg Christian Church, United Presbyterian Church and St. Philips Episcopal Church are all located on or near Main Street. Each June, the town comes together to celebrate the Fort Harrod Beef Festival to revel in a weekend of bourbon tasting, wine and cheese samples, burger and sauce samples and grilling competitions for kids. To work off all that good food, many festival-goers also participate in the Stampede 5K Run/Walk, which raises money for United Way.

Photo courtesy of Sydney and Russell Poore

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