Restore Old Town Greenwood aims high with new accreditation

Restore Old Town Greenwood has once again been designated an Indiana Main Street program, opening the door for more events and initiatives.

Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, or OCRA, announced on March 2 that Restore Old Town Greenwood was one of 14 organizations either designated as an Indiana Main Street program or moved into a new Indiana Main Street program level. ROTG was named an OCRA Downtown Affiliate Network community, or ODAN, the introductory level for the state’s Main Street program, officials said in a news release.

The designation makes ROTG the third Johnson County organization to be part of Indiana’s Main Street Program. Bargersville Main Street, like Restore Old Town, is an ODAN community. Discover Downtown Franklin is a Nationally Accredited Main Street Program, which is the highest level.

The Indiana Main Street program allows communities to celebrate what makes them unique and showcase their downtown districts, Crouch said in a statement. Organizations designated as an ODAN community prefer to specialize in event-related activities only, lack the physical and historical capacity required to qualify as a Main Street organization or are working towards building organizational capacity to meet the Indiana or Main Street America Accreditation Standards, according to the news release.

ROTG started as a Facebook page in 2010 dedicated to preserving some of the historic buildings in Old Town before evolving into the organization it is today. It was also previously designated an Indiana Main Street community, and having the designation back means a lot, said Brad Nemeth, president.

“This will open us up to more opportunities, which we’re very excited about,” Nemeth said.

Being re-designated will allow ROTG members to network with other communities around the state and take part in trainings. It will also give them more grant opportunities to help pay for activities and events.

ROTG will also have a great opportunity to work with the city on potential projects. Back when ROTG was designated a Main Street program, they worked with the city to get a $400,000 grant to improve facades downtown around 2015, he said.

The designation also puts ROTG back on the path of becoming a nationally accredited program, like Discover Downtown Franklin. This is the ultimate goal, as it will provide many benefits to Old Town, Nemeth said.

“It’ll help bring in more businesses, allow us to bring in more businesses into the city, (allow us) to have bigger events and just to really get people realizing how important Old Town is to the community,” he said.

A lot of people may be familiar with Old Town, but there are probably just as many people — including some in Greenwood — who don’t realize what Old Town has to offer, Nemeth said.

“We would really like to help bring more and more people downtown through the years,” he said.

Later this year, there will be a historic walking tour and a historic home tour to help mark the bicentennial of the first settlement in Greenwood, Nemeth said. The city was incorporated in 1864, but the first settlers moved into the area in 1823.

The home tour was designed to coincide with the bicentennial of the first settlement in Greenwood, which was around September 1823. This year’s event is expected to be pretty big when it takes place on Sept. 23, Nemeth said.

“Last time, we had 1,000 people show up and we’re planning on even more this year,” he said.

ROTG is also planning other events to help celebrate the city’s history. A historic marker will be unveiled in the coming months to celebrate the Old Town Greenwood Residential Historic District, which is registered on the National Register of Historic Places, he said.

ROTG officials are also currently having a membership drive, asking businesses both big and small, along with their supporters, to chip in. The funds will help them provide more events and do more things to help promote Old Town Greenwood, Nemeth said.