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."
"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."
"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.
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."
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.
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."