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Preserving History

Downtown Washington, Inc., formerly a merchant's committee since the late 1950's, was formed in 1989 when the City of Washington was selected as one of the first five pilot communities for the Missouri Main Street Program. Downtown Washington, Inc. has maintained its status as a Missouri Main Street Program and as a National Main Street Community to this day. Downtown Washington, Inc. proudly sponsors the Art Fair & Winefest, Main Street BBQ & Bluesfest, Sunsets on the Riverfront, Fall Festival of the Arts & Crafts, Halloween Family Fun Night and Holiday Parade of Lights.

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To promote an attractive and financially stable downtown while preserving our historic resources and enriching the community.
Now and in the future, Downtown Washington will serve as a center of commerce in Franklin County, offering numerous opportunities for people to enjoy the character of an historic riverfront town. Downtown will be a warm and friendly place, one which attracts businesses, past and present residents, and visitors alike. Providing a vibrant atmosphere, downtown Washington will be able to serve both as a center for civic activities and as a destination for tourists.  Downtown will attract and retain a diverse mix of complementary retail and service businesses. The core of the city will be maintained downtown, taking advantage of the river location. Remaining a major viable economic force that contributes to a growing tax base, Downtown Washington will also retain its charm and rich heritage.  Historic buildings will be preserved with economically viable uses.  Equipped with a design handbook previously commissioned as part of a comprehensive plan, a committee will remain in place to help keep the downtown clean and well-maintained, incorporating attractive window designs and green space.  Strong leadership supported by an enthusiastic base of volunteers will be the product of an alliance made up of united businesses, the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Washington, Inc., the City of Washington, and the broader community. This alliance will utilize a shared vision, a clear set of goals, and strong community financial support to drive the downtown revitalization program.
In April of 1973 a group of downtown merchants incorporated Washington Downtown Shopping Center, Inc. as a not for profit corporation in response to the rise of shopping centers in the southern part of town.  Their early efforts to improve the civic conditions in the downtown shopping district eventually blossomed into Downtown Washington, Inc. In 1989, Washington Downtown Shopping Center, Inc. was shortened to Downtown Washington, Inc. when the city of Washington, along with four other Missouri towns, was selected to become a pilot community for the newly formed Missouri Main Street Program, an initiative created by the Missouri Department of Economic Development and National Trust for Historic Preservation.   During the 1990s the organization, under the supervision of Executive Director Linda Kuenzie, began to reshape the layout and aesthetic of the downtown district.  Along with constructing the Main and Elm Street parking lot in 1991, Downtown Washington, Inc., partnering with the City of Washington, led the renovation of Main Street by installing new lamps and banners.  Kuenzie, along with her board, also established the gift certificate system, a program that has encouraged shopping in the downtown district for more than 20 years. In 1992, the Feltmann Family donated the historic log cabin on Jefferson and 2nd Street to Downtown Washington, Inc.  Restoration began in 1993 and lasted for four and a half years. Upon completion in 1997, the organization’s operations were moved from the Chamber of Commerce’s basement to their new offices in the cabin.  There, Rodney Stoyer served as Executive Director from 1999 until 2002 and helped Downtown Washington, Inc. finish twice (2000-2001) in the top 10 for the Great American Main Street award. In 2001 Bridgette Epple was hired and helped guide Downtown Washington, Inc. into the 21st century.  During the next decade the organization’s focus gradually expanded to encompass property redevelopment and ownership.  To help facilitate this, the Historic Washington Foundation was founded in 2006 with the intention of managing larger projects.  One of their first undertakings was the renovation of the Bleckman building at 317 West Main Street in 2005.  A year later the Farmers’ Market opened and since then has proven to be an important location for hosting events downtown.  Its relevance to the downtown district was expanded in 2011 when the upper stories of the Farmers’ Market were converted into residential space. More recently the organization completed a massive renovation of the downtown post office.  In 2010 they moved their operations once more and on March 1, 2011 the newly renovated post office was opened, hosting both new offices for the organization and also a Contract Postal Unit providing mail services.  These efforts and expansion culminated in 2012 when the organization won the coveted Great American Main Street award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Our Team

Bridgette Kelch

Executive Director

Executive Director 636-239-1743 Fax 636-239-4832 bkelch@downtownwashmo.org

Danielle Grotewiel

Communication Specialist and Executive Assistant

“I have so many wonderful memories of being downtown as a kid and throughout my life.  I still find myself walking around a

Leanna Epperson

CPU Specialist

CPU Specialist “Having grown up in a big city, like Riverside, CA, I appreciate that I can raise my son in a small town.  I

Christine Bogue

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping 636-239-1743 Fax 636-239-4832 accounting@downtownwashmo.org

Downtown Washington, Inc. Board of Directors

Chris Eckelkamp

President

President Chris Eckelkamp “I love downtown because it has so many different things to offer, and  brings people together in

Jeff Holtmeier

Vice President

“I never get tired of taking guests through downtown and hearing their reactions. To have visitors tell us how lucky we are to l

Toni Cavin

Secretary/Treasurer

Secretary/Treasurer Toni Cavin (2014-2016*) “I am looking forward to watching fall change the look of Washington.  It is so

Kristy Stoyer

Board Member

“I love downtown Washington because of the close-knit community, local traditions, and charm.  I love hearing about the his

Angie Williams

Board Member

Angela (Angie) M. Williams “The community spirit in downtown Washington is amazing!  I did not grow up in Washington and I

Alecia Turner

Board Member

Alecia Turner “I really love the sense of community, preservation of historic buildings, and the heart of the volunteers tha

Trent Hendrickson

Board Member

Trent Hendrickson “Friendly merchants, a diverse mix of businesses and plenty to do and see!” Heritage Community Bank

Kenny Pinnell

Board Member

“I enjoy working at the downtown events.  There are always so many new people to meet.  They give a real sense of communit

Rick Marquart

Board Member

Rick Marquart     Marquart’s Landing/Otis Campbell’s 300 West Front St. 636-262-8544 Fax: 636-239-1270 rwmar

Katie Dieckhaus

Board Member

Katie Dieckhaus “The citizens of Washington have managed to preserve the heritage of its founders through the downtown area.

Carolyn Witt

Board Member

“Downtown Washington is the heart of our community!  It is our responsibility to keep it alive, well and prospering!”

Jim Wurdack

Board Member

James (Jim) Wurdack IT Department Manager CarShare james.t.wurdack@ehi.com 314-512-5462 600 Corporate Park Drive Saint Louis, Miss

Natalie Cash

Board Member

Natalie Cash Customer Service Manager Citizens Bank 1451 High Street, Ste 101 Washington, MO 63090 Phone 636-390-9944 Fax 636-390-

Historic Washington Foundation Board of Directors

Rick Hopp

President

“The heritage of our downtown is what I love most.  It’s the perfect place to live and run a business.” Preside

Vince Borgerding

Vice President

“I like seeing all of the committees working together with the Downtown Washington, Inc. staff to get things done.  It̵

Rodney Stoyer

Secretary

Secretary Rodney Stoyer “I love downtown Washington because it feels like home to me.” The Country Club of St. Albans

Joe Schneider

Treasurer

Treasurer Joe Schneider “When I enter downtown Washington a feeling of comfort, friendship and happiness comes over me.  I

Nancy Walkenhorst

Board Member

“Downtown Washington is just in my heart. When we moved to this wonderful town 40 years ago, we spent much time downtown, s

John Vietmeier

Board Member

“I love downtown Washington and I’m proud to call it home.  We play, pray and prosper in downtown, as it is a great p

Bryan Bogue

Board Member

“I love that downtown supports my active lifestyle.  I enjoy being in the middle of all the action.  It is a great place t

Andy Unerstall

Board Member

Andy Unerstall Unerstall Construction Co. 705 Jefferson Street 314-280-2267 Fax: 636-239-8408 andy@unerstallcontruction.com