BATH — Bath has become Maine’s first community to receive a Great American Main Street award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The city was one of five communities in the nation to be honored Monday as award winners for 2012, for its distinctive Front Street. Only five New England communities have been named in the 16-year history of the award.
The National Trust Main Street Center, part of the National Trust, recognizes five communities around the United States each year for excellence in revitalizing historic “Main Streets.”
The aim is to revitalize downtown business districts with an emphasis on historic preservation. Representatives from the five winning communities were honored Monday in Baltimore at the 2012 National Main Streets Conference.
Main Street Bath Director Jennifer Geiger said she has seen a steady progression of improvement in the variety and quality of downtown businesses.
“The preservationists have kept the infrastructure and history alive over the years,” Geiger said. Main Street Bath is about 10 years old.
City Councilor Mari Eosco, the Great American Main Street Award committee chairwoman, said the Main Street Bath organization had an impressive foundation on which to build.
“In the 1970s, the new sidewalks and lights were put in, and we received an award from the National Trust,” she said.
Bath’s involvement in the award program began at the awards ceremony a few years ago. Eosco and co-chair Polly Goldman attended. Eosco said they watched the ceremony and thought, “We could do that.”
Geiger said she feels that all of Bath benefits from the efforts of Main Street Bath and the award. “This is bigger than just a victory for downtown Bath,” she said.
Geiger said Bath is representative of the iconic Maine town, featuring brick buildings, church spires, gardens, and a real sense of family and community.
Nine Main Street organizations are operating in Maine communities.
To celebrate, Bath has hung a banner across Front Street, and will honor the committee at the annual Downtown Conference in May.