Our Mission & History

About

Main Street Wooster, Inc. was incorporated in June, 1985. Implementation of the program began in January, 1987. The process was developed by the National Main Street Center of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Main Street process is based on four tenets:

Organization

Building consensus and cooperation among public and private groups and individuals, and identifying sources of funding for revitalization activities.

Design

Enhancing the commercial district’s physical appearance a through building rehabilitation, compatible new construction, public improvements, and design management systems.

Promotion

Marketing the commercial district through events and advertising to attract customers, potential investors, new businesses, residents, and visitors.

Economic Restructuring

Strengthening the district’s economic base and creating new opportunities through careful analysis and appropriate mixed-use development. Main Street Wooster, Inc. works with an incremental process which has resulted in approximately $145 million of public and private reinvestment, the interior and exterior rehabilitation of 87 buildings, a net gain of 57 new businesses, and the retention and expansion of 36 businesses with less than 6% vacancy in its downtown street storefronts.

Main Street Wooster, Inc. is a non-profit organization, a 501(C)3, the funding of which is contributed on a 3-year pledge basis. The Board of Trustees, which represents the community and downtown Wooster, deals with issues that directly affect the downtown commercial core and its goal to remain economically viable.

Mission 

To enhance the community of Wooster by improving the quality of its downtown business and living environment through Planning, Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Development.

Vision Statement

Downtown Wooster is the cornerstone of the community...dedicated to the development of public/private partnerships, maintenance of small town tradition, development of specialized retail, professional, and governmental businesses/offices, and celebration through events.

History

On January 4, 1812, the Ohio General Assembly organized the present Wayne County, named in honor of Major-General Anthony Wayne.

Wooster’s earliest history begins with the brothers William, Joseph and John Larwill, who along with John Bever and William Henry surveyed the town in 1808. Wooster was named in honor of Revolutionary War Brigadier-General David Wooster of Connecticut.

Wooster was made the Seat of Justice in 1811, and incorporated as a town on October 13, 1817. The population in 1820 was 1,935.

The earliest settlers were from Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New England. A great number also came from Pennsylvania, people who came to be known as Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsylvania Germans.

The first Amish Settler, Jacob Yoder, came to Wayne County in 1817. The Amish communities in Wayne and neighboring Holmes Counties are home to a large settlement of Amish. The Amish communities enhance the strong agricultural heritage of Wayne County.

Downtown Wooster, intersected by Liberty and Market Streets, was characterized by a dry goods business, Larwill, Girling & Co., in 1818. The construction of a jail (1816) and the first courthouse (1818) helped to establish the trading center of the county. The courthouse that stands today was constructed for $75,000 in 1878.

Downtown Wooster currently has 300 businesses which include retail, service, governmental, education, and non profits. Wooster was designated one of Ohio’s “Best Hometowns” by Ohio magazine in 2006 and 2017; an All-American City in 1975, an AAC semifinalist in 1997 and has been a Tree City since 1976. Wooster’s motto is: “Keeping Tradition a Part of Our Future”.

 

Wooster Renewed | A Thirty Year Journey of Rediscovery 

30 years of downtown revitalization!  The plans, ideas, some implemented, some now just history.  “Wooster Renewed…a Thirty year journey of rediscovery” tells the story of the past 30 years and the Main Street Wooster, Inc. organization, which is dedicated to the economic sustainability and preservation of downtown Wooster.

With a grant from the Wayne County Community Foundation, “Wooster Renewed” tells the story of the downtown, from a historical perspective.

In 1987, Wooster’s once bustling downtown was looking time-worn and needing a “facelift”.  Retail occupancy had dropped to 42% and superficial attempts at beautification had not kept the customers from the malls, a huge change in shopping and restaurants.  Main Street Wooster, Inc., a process for downtown change of preservation of our traditional buildings and “heart of the city” ambiance, began to implement what is now a thirty year story of public and private reinvestment and visioning what a renewed small-town downtown could be.

Today, there is more than 90% occupancy in retail, restaurant and service businesses, “on the street” and 96% occupancy in the second and third stories of the buildings, showcasing more than 148 lofts and 15 condominiums.

Pictures and text tell the story of the change, of the collaboration and visioning of so many and the support of the community.

Cost of the book is $20.00 and can be purchased at the Main Street Wooster  office (377 West Liberty/The Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce),Wooster Gift Corner, Books In Stock and the Florence O. Wilson Bookstore, in Lowry Center, at the College of Wooster.