Culpeper, Va. Wins Great American Main Street Award
Decades of Commitment Honored
Culpeper, Va. – On April 2, 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Culpeper, Va., as one of five winners of the 2012 Great American Main Street Award for their demonstrated leadership in implementing the Main Street Four-Point Approach (r), embracing sound historic preservation practices and building strategic partnerships.
The rebirth of this downtown began with the threatened demolition of the passenger depot in 1985. The third depot on that spot, the 1904 building was about to become of victim of declining passenger rail usage, as Norfolk Southern implemented cost-saving measures. The town's citizens resisted this loss of heritage: Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. (CRI) formed in 1987and became a Main Street program in 1988. Restoration efforts, especially fundraising, can be slow processes, and it was 1995 by the time CRI successfully submitted a $700,000 renovation grant under the Virginia Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant. In 1998, the deed to the depot was officially transferred from Norfolk Southern to the town of Culpeper, allowing work to begin, and the renovated train station opened in 2000. Later, more renovations were made to the freight section of the depot which were completed in 2003.
As well as bringing the depot back to life, CRI joined private and public entities in making streetscape and infrastructure improvements and restoring badly damaged storefronts. Vacancies, which were at 86 percentwhen they began, are now at 8 percent thanks to a mix of banks, boutiques, and coffee shops—324 new businesses have opened since CRI began its Main Street program. Upper floor apartments along Culpeper's Davis Street are occupied and the downtown thrives once again.
Beginning in October 2010, Amtrak Virginia, a partnership between the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and Amtrak, began a daily round-trip train between Lynchburg, Washington, D.C., and points north along the Northeast Corridor. The new service provides communities along the US 29 corridor with more travel options and direct links to Northeast destinations. Along with tri-weekly service from the Cardinal and daily service from the Crescent, Culpeper is situated to grow as a regional cultural and entertainment destination.