America's Favorite Main Street Celebrates History with Paint and Pride
After months of nominations, voting and campaigning, it’s finally official: The winner of this year's America's Main Streets Contest is Main Street Wellington in Wellington, Ohio. This historic neighborhood earned its place as America's favorite Main Street with a compelling story that involves a few of America's other favorites, including a patriotic scene, free parking and cheese.
Wellington sits in northern Ohio, approximately 40 miles southwest of Cleveland. Although small, the village is rich in history. In 1876, Ohio native Archibald MacNeal Willard painted the iconic Yankee Doodle portrait, "The Spirt of '76," in Wellington. The painting shows a trio of parading musicians in what appears to be a Revolutionary battle. Willard was actually inspired by a real parade that took place though downtown Wellington at the time. Meanwhile, Wellington also became known as the "Cheese Empire of the Nation" thanks to more than 40 cheese factories that filled the area during the 1800s.
Today, many of the historic red-brick buildings from that era continue to line the streets of downtown Wellington. In recent years, a coalition of local residents and businesses has worked to restore these facades to their original glory. Through its "Paint the Town Proud" program, Main Street Wellington has rallied the community in support of its vibrant history.
With the $25,000 prize, Main Street Wellington will continue its Paint the Town Proud program. There are plans to refresh downtown with signs dedicated to telling the town's history and directing visitors to free parking. In particular, the community will restore a downtown building damaged by fire. True to the village's history, the renovation will preserve and highlight the building's signature "Cheese" signs.