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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Businesses help continue renovation of Dyersburg's Historic Downtown District

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The addition of Joe's Downtown Market is one of several initiatives in the Historic Downtown District designed to fill a need in the community. The eatery offers a place to have lunch and fellowship just off the Courthouse Square and becomes a draw for others to the heart of Dyer County.
Downtown revitalization consists of more than just the stop signs and streetlamps in front of businesses on the Historic Courthouse Square. Caring for the heart of Dyer County is the effort of both community leaders and individual businessmen -- and one that shows visitors just how much the community cares for its past.
Summer is here and Dyersburg's Historic Courthouse Square is prepared to welcome both residents and visitors to the heart of Dyer County.

Revitalization efforts recently completed on the square have created an atmosphere inspired by streetscapes of the early 1920s and '30s, but those improvements are not alone in drawing visitors to the area.

The downtown district continues to evolve as community leaders and local merchants each do their part to create a destination for those living in and visiting the Dyer County community.

"There is a rule of thumb in revitalizing a historic downtown: Private investment follows public investment," said Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce Director of Downtown Development Steve Guttery. "While our investment never really ends, the phased streetscape project has reached a stopping point after the completion of both sides of the court square."

With repaired sidewalks, detailed brickwork and improved ADA compatibility, downtown businessmen now have a firm foundation for their customers. Blooming flowers, inviting benches and streetlamps inspired by old Dyer County photographs offer a pleasant backdrop -- one that has inspired many property owners to begin their own revitalization efforts.

"People are now starting to see the benefits of the downtown renovations," said Downtown Dyersburg Association President and General Appliance and Furniture Store owner Joe Yates. "People are putting money back into the downtown area. We hope that will keep catching on to other property owners who wish to freshen up and dress up the facades of their buildings."

The renovations to the front of City Hall Antiques is just one of the many revitalization projects underway in Dyersburg's Historic Downtown District. The completion of the sidewalks and streetscapes on the merchant side of the Courthouse Square have inspired many downtown business owners to add upgrades of their own. Each project beautifies the community and helps turn downtown Dyersburg into a destination for both residents and visitors.
Merchants in the district are steadily investing money into the historic buildings surrounding the heart of the community, with many downtown businesses leading the way in revitalization efforts.

"Even before we got started (with the sidewalk renovations), Galleria completed fašade improvements to all four of its buildings on the Square," said Guttery. "Security Bank set the pace for restoration to an exact time period. The bank chose the original look of the Cordell Hull Hotel coupled with the historically appropriate lighting and sidewalks planned for downtown."

Guttery said improvements have also been made to the Dyer County Courthouse, City Drug, Congressman Stephen Fincher's Office in the old Citizens Bank building, various county properties and most of the attorneys' offices in the downtown district.

"Most recently, Old City Hall Antiques (has begun work on its fašade)," said Guttery. "All have made excellent progress in restoring their properties."

The Courtyard, a new addition to Pennington Seed and Supply for the 2013 spring/summer season, is the first new construction in the downtown district in decades. The inviting space offers residents a chance to enjoy the weather when perusing their plant options and owner Mike Pennington a chance to expand his product line to include fountains, garden items and yard art.
A district rich in unique architecture, downtown Dyersburg also features the work of businesses that have invested in the heart of the community for many years.

"First United Methodist Church has occupied two locations downtown," said Guttery. "Their restored Roman Revival architecture has greeted visitors on US 51 since the 1920s. First Citizens National Bank set the bar high years ago when they renovated their downtown main location and incorporated the former J.C. Penney store. Larry White completed renovations to several businesses on Church Street including the former Cecil and Russell Taxi Stand. White is quite familiar with historic preservation having restored the Baird Delaney Hospital on Main Avenue."

Guttery commends other longstanding downtown businesses for their diligence and creativity in preserving the downtown district.

Fountains like this have now found a home in The Courtyard at Pennington's, a new addition to Dyersburg's Historic Downtown District.
"Chandler's Family Hair Care turned catastrophic structural damage into a safe, revitalized downtown business with second-story housing," said Guttery. "(And) Hulgan Photography has moved into their recently restored downtown location. Johnny Hulgan makes use of the patina of the older structures downtown in his portrait photography."

Residents winding their way through the streets of the downtown district have also learned to expect flowers in the summertime, thanks to initiatives by Yates and members of the Downtown Dyersburg Association.

"General Appliance and Furniture Company has restored six buildings including their original location on West Court Street," said Guttery. "Joe Yates removed the boards from the upper-story windows to reveal that most of the original windows were intact and just needed painting. He added flower baskets to the fašade improvements and receives compliments from customers and motorists."

Flowers in the upstairs windows of General Appliance and Furniture have become a local tradition for residents shopping in Dyersburg's downtown district. Beautification efforts like these go a long way in creating a destination to draw residents near and far to historic Downtown Dyersburg.
Yates and members of the Downtown Dyersburg Association of merchants have long anticipated the changes now visible in the downtown district. Yates said he is pleased by the many projects completed in the past year in downtown Dyersburg.

Yates' list includes the opening of McIver's Grant Public Library's new state-of-the-art location, a project responsible for revitalizing an entire city block on its own. The library also offers another destination for residents in the downtown area.

Both Yates and Pennington Seed and Supply owner Mike Pennington have stepped out and completed new projects in the past year, as well.

Yates and his wife, Patty, have ventured into a different kind of business across the street from the historic General Appliance and Furniture Company. Together, the couple has transformed a building across the street into Joe's Downtown Market. The inviting sandwich shop and gathering place fills a need in the downtown district by providing an eatery easily accessible to downtown employees. It also pulls residents from other areas of the community to the area for breakfast and lunch.

At nearby Pennington Seed and Supply, owner Mike Pennington has also expanded the business that has been in his family for over three decades. The Courtyard is an addition that both beautifies the downtown area and provides a venue for Pennington's expanded line of fountains, garden items and yard art.

Creating McIver's Grant Public Library's new location from a renovated grocery store just off of the Dyersburg Courthouse Square offers residents yet another reason to travel to the downtown district. The remodel was a community effort, one that revitalized an entire city block.
"Pennington Seed and Supply not only completed fašade improvements, they added the first new construction in the historic district in decades with their courtyard outdoor sales area," said Guttery.

The busy garden season moved in quickly for Pennington, who is also a vital part of the Downtown Dyersburg Association. He has more planned for his newest venture when time permits. Pennington's vision for the future promises growth for his new line and yet another destination to draw shoppers throughout the region.

"We are going to fill it with new items every year," said Pennington.

That vision for the future is one shared by Main Street Dyersburg and its partners in the city of Dyersburg and Dyer County government. With the sidewalks and streetscapes along the Courthouse Square complete, there is still much to do to move forward in improving the heart of Dyer County.

"We are focusing on the east side of the Court Square to balance the look downtown," said Guttery. "Property owners don't always see the importance of spending money on their downtown property, but there are still many owners that take pride in their historic properties. We hope the momentum set by Main Street, the city and county governments -- and, of course, preservation-minded property owners -- will carry over to property owners trying to decide if it is worth it to revitalize."

And is it worth it?

"Here is the Main Street view: We only have one shot at restoring the Historic District," answers Guttery. "If we fail, then we'll just have a whole lot of historic parking lots and no reason to park."

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Thanks to all those who are trying to make downtown look nice.

To those of you who own property on the east side, some of you need to be shamed in cleaning up your junky fronts.

-- Posted by ukwildcats on Tue, Jul 9, 2013, at 10:00 AM

downtown is doomed until the attorneys move away from the square and all three floors of the county court clerk building is home to several more county officies. commerce demands a place to do commerce. why is the farmers market only open for farmers on saturday mornings? why not every day they want to sell their produce?

-- Posted by closerlook on Tue, Jul 9, 2013, at 12:30 PM

It is just like putting lipstick on a pig. Downtown Dyersburg's only fix is a bulldozer. Has to be one of the ugliest court houses in America. What a joke! Stop wasting taxpayer money.

-- Posted by bulldog84 on Tue, Jul 9, 2013, at 6:56 PM

In regards to the efforts by all to restore downtown, fantastic job to this point, knowing you are limited to what you can do individually...just please keep it going..not many grew up in the 50's and 60's when downtown was thriving...I think it is a great concept to bring people back to where it all began...kudos to all of you...and the previous posts about a bulldozer and a ugly courthouse, obviously this one has never traveled around whatsoever, as there are many courthouses that need to look as good...you honestly are not very appreciative....

-- Posted by Beachvol on Tue, Jul 9, 2013, at 10:01 PM

beach, go to newbern or halls to see a thriving downtown, or even or union city. we have nothing downtown but attorneys and gov. offices, with very few exceptions.

-- Posted by closerlook on Wed, Jul 10, 2013, at 7:28 AM

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