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Hope for downtown Columbia historic district?

By Linda Waggener

Could it be it is now time for downtown Columbia to be polished, repaired and filled with more activity in empty buildings? I have to admit I have hope because of the transition taking place on the corner of Jamestown Street.

Restoration in recent years on the public squares in Greensburg, Edmonton and on Campbellsville's Main Street shows we have work to do in Columbia's historic district.

Deterioration of the old downtown began in my memory in the 1970s when retail began to move to the "then new Columbia" at the top of Jamestown hill where Tractor Supply is now, closing off retail sales on the public square.

When traffic to one store on the square stopped, another store was impacted and buildings began to empty out one by one. When the people are gone and the windows are empty of goods, color and light, people are naturally drawn to other shopping areas.

Several have done work on individual buildings and made very positive changes, and now there is one significant hopeful move with great potential. Credit is due to all of the people along the way who helped land the Jeffreys building in the hands of Lindsey Wilson College. The new windows and work on the roof signal hope for activity and continuous upkeep that will draw people to that corner of the Public Square again.

The Adair Heritage Association has a collection of ideas that have come in over the years since government offices moved and left the courthouse vacant. The ideas center around the upstairs court room being a place for local arts and performances and the downstairs becoming an executive conference area for tourism and/or key government offices for meetings.

While the historic courthouse is the property of the county and the responsibility of the fiscal Court, I believe it should be a joint effort between both city and county budgets because it sits in the middle of the city.

Until there is money, in the meantime, can we talk about little steps?

Two entities, Renaissance Columbia and the Adair heritage Association might join forces, combine all the ideas from the University of Kentucky study and recent local idea sessions, and begin to put together a plan for next steps on the courthouse as work comes together on the Lindsey Wilson building corner.

Can the courthouse be cleaned around the outside?

Can the dead cherry tree be removed from the tulip garden?

Can the chimney be repaired where bricks have come loose?

Can the window blinds all be at the same position, up or down, open or closed?

Can the splotches where passers by have tossed cans of liquid that resulted in brown splotches on the brick be washed off?

Can the Christmas decorations be removed from entrances?

Can we hear from our county buildings committee on these requests?

This story was posted on 2016-04-14 21:04:48
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Garden Club to County: please remove the dead tree?

2016-04-14 - public square, Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener.
The Adair County Garden Club members maintain the tulip garden and need the help of county government to cut and remove the dead ornamental cherry tree from the center of it.

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New windows completed, work offers hope for Columbia square

2016-04-15 - view from corner Reed and Jamestown Streets, Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener.
New window installation in the building formerly known as the Jeffries Building, now the Lindsey Wilson College building, on the square in Columbia offers hope that more good things are to come for the historic county seat of Adair. The final window installation is pictured above -- looking so good. Notice, however, on the building corner to the right there's still a major landmark on the opposite corner of Jamestown Street that is in serious disrepair and in need of a plan.

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