Main Street a lifeline for downtown in 2020

Downtown Crawfordsville as seen in the summer of 2020 looking north along South Washington Street.
Downtown Crawfordsville as seen in the summer of 2020 looking north along South Washington Street.
Journal Review File Photo

As she watered flowers along a virtually empty downtown street on a weekday morning in late April 2020, Sue Lucas paused to capture the scene.

Restaurants had been closed to in-person dining and all non-essential workers had been ordered to stay at home as Indiana saw its first cases and deaths from COVID-19.

“There was a strong mindfulness of all the forces that were serving in response to the crisis, and new folks stepping up ready to serve,” Lucas, Crawfordsville Main Street program manager, said during the organization’s virtual annual meeting Monday.

As the virus spread, Main Street served as a pipeline for local business relief efforts and grants. A call-to-action was put out on social media urging residents to support downtown merchants.

Webinars were offered to business owners seeking assistance for navigating the pandemic-related restrictions.

“I tell everybody that Crawfordsville and our community went into the pandemic in a strong position and we will emerge on the other side in a strong position,” Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton said in remarks, going on to praise Main Street’s efforts.

“Our downtown has been very resilient and has fared very well, and I think Main Street deserves a lot of the credit for that,” Barton said. “You’ve really built a strong foundation in our downtown.”

The organization is a chapter of the Indiana Main Street Program through the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The program offers information, community support and guidance on revitalizing downtown business districts.

Crawfordsville Main Street received an Indiana Accredited Main Street designation last year, opening the door to state-funded programs and promotional materials or grant opportunities for events like Small Business Saturday.

This May, the organization once again plans to recognize National Preservation Month by showcasing the histories of downtown buildings with Crawfordsville native Anne Shaw, an architectural historian and archaeologist.

The first phase of a wayfinding sign project supported by the Montgomery County Visitors and Convention Bureau and the City of Crawfordsville could be activated by the end of the year, Lucas said.

Main Street is seeking to establish a fund to pay for additional American flags to hang from downtown-area lampposts. Those interested in supporting the fund should contact Lucas at 765-376-6832 or

New board members were also elected during the meeting, including Lewis McCrary, special adviser to Wabash College President Scott Feller; Steve McLaughlin, vice president of business development at Tri-County Bank & Trust; and Lexi Klein, a freelance graphic designer and business owner.

Klein’s husband, Tom, is Montgomery County Administrator.

The slate of officers is Brenda Kiger, president; Michelle Janssen, vice president; and Karen Thada, secretary-treasurer. Thada replaces treasurer Cody Hargis, who came off the board this year.


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