On the day before News Year eve, the soft glow of the slowly fading rays of an evening sun on this Main Street sign caused us to think about the passing of time in a town with a history that goes back to when Maryland was a Royal colony ruled by Lord Baltimore. The ancient Pike, our Main Street, was a familiar route of travel in those days.
The town has some fascinating history and as the Mayor and Commissioners and the nonprofit it funds, the Elkton Alliance, continue attempts to rebuild the old commerical district, we think one of the cost-effective opportunities the town may have is its historical resources. Historic preservation is one of the underlying approaches of the national and Maryland Main Street’s programs, which call for capitalizing on a communitiy’s best asset, its past. As the National Main Streets program sees it historic buildings and the stories of a community create an opportunity to compete with malls and big box retailers. If an old business district is preserved and restored, it will have a sense of character that the malls will not. Then if it’s coupled with fine restaurants and specialty shops, one might just have the anchors for kicking off growth.
For Elkton that opportunity fades with each passing year as more and more of its cluster of historic buildings in the business district are lost to 21st century parking lots and a few modern structures. Just our thought about untapped potential as the fading evening sun marks the passing of another year in a town that has been associated wtih events connected to the founding of the nation. It is a strategy that we’ve seen work in other communities.