Officials with the Vincennes Tourism Bureau and the Knox County Chamber of Commerce are coming together to do a little something special.
Sponsored by the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs, locals are hosting an after-hours event from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday on Main Street downtown in celebration of Downtown Development Week.
Ellen Harper, director of the non-profit Downtown Vincennes Association, said visitors to downtown will be treated to one of two personal tours given by historian Norbert Brown highlighting the many Main Street buildings that have been restored over the last couple of years.
The tours, she said, will give people an up-close look at the nine Main Street facades that have been restored — and in many cases long-hidden historic details uncovered — as part of a $500,000 state OCRA grant administered earlier this year.
Property owners, too, contributed to 20% of the overall cost, and the Urban Enterprise Association offered $40,000 to bolster efforts as well.
Buildings included in the grant-funded project were Insight of the Wabash, 120 Main St.; Moore and Miller, 221 Main St.; Farm and Sport, 410 Main St.; Vincennes Ocular Center, 414 Main St.; Hollywood Hoosiers, 418 Main St.; the Christian Science Reading Room, 510 Main St.; Wabash Plumbing, 921 Main St.; and Bauer Jewelers and Gemologists, 330 Main St.
Also included is 522 Main St., a now empty building owned by David, Eric and Butch Niehaus.
Each of the buildings saw improvements that included things like new windows, exterior doors, tuck-pointing and a fresh coat of historically-appropriate paint.
But those improvements have spawned others, Harper said, and the tour will highlight those buildings as well.
The tour, too, she said, will take visitors pas the old Zander’s building at 315 Main St., which owners Clint and Leah Richter have been in the process of renovating into a space for two yet-to-be-announced retail spaces and four residential lofts above.
They, too, have transformed the old Regions Bank building downtown into an event center, one aptly named The Grand Bankquet Hall, 302 Main St.
And Doug Halter, owner of The Halter Group, on Main Street has also recently overseen a total renovation of his lobby and building facade as well.
Similar architectural tours were hosted by the non-profit, previously named INVin, and Brown last year. They were so successful, Harper said, that they wanted to do more.
“We thought this would be a great way to celebrate (the conclusion) of our facade grant projects,” Harper said. “And it’s a good way to celebrate Downtown Development Week because we’ve had so much great development in our downtown.
“So many times, if you’re in a vehicle, you’re focused on a lot of other things. When we did the architectural tour, people really got to experience the buildings and hear all about their history. They got a whole look of the building, from the roof to the sidewalk. They could see the buildings’ personalities.”
The first tour, Harper said, will set off from the public parking lot at Sixth and Main streets promptly at 4:30 p.m. The second will begin at 5:45 p.m.
In partnership with the Knox County Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Vincennes Association will also host a reception at the Main Street trailhead onto the Riverwalk beginning at 5:30 p.m.
This is the second year for OCRA’s Downtown Development Week. It was launched last year in an effort to honor cities and towns’ commitment to preserve and invest in the hearts of their communities — their downtowns.
Perks from a thriving downtown area, according to OCRA’s website, include “prominent” employment opportunities, history, gathering places, a significant tax base and a “reflection of community image, pride and property.”