Benjamin Moore paint company is preparing to give America a facelift with their “Main Street Matters” campaign. This spring, the company announced a contest to help revitalize 20 communities in American and Canadian communities by painting the main streets of towns selected from more than 100 cities on the companies’ website.
Chief Marketing Officer of Benjamin Moore explains, “Our Main Streets are the vital hubs of our communities – and Benjamin Moore and our network of independent dealers have always been integral parts of Main Street,” he says in an announcement by the company. “This investment we’re making in communities around North America is core to our business and to who we are; Main Streets makes who we are and we’re proud to honor that with this effort.”
Towns who win will be provided with paint and supplies needed for porches, facades, railings, shutters and other exterior building trims, and Benjamin Moore color experts will consult on best choices to enhance architectural style, regional influences and historic references in each community. Professional painters will be hired, many of them will be members of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, and as many local workers will be hired as possible.
Voting for the contest began May 16 and ends June 30. Voting is easy, Benjamin Moore has an integrated map where you can click on a state and easily see nominated towns, then select the town for which you wish to vote. You can vote once daily until the end of the contest.
Across America, there are many worthy towns: Wenatchee, WA, Coos Bay, OR, Venice Beach, CA, Park City, UT, Flagstaff, AZ, Ruidoso, NM, Neptune Beach, FL, Athens, GA, but one truly stands out, the historic town of the Comstock Lode, Virginia City, Nevada.
While most people may know Virginia City was the home of Mark Twain, or that the Cartwright boys and their pa went there from the Ponderosa Ranch, or even the story about the famous prostitute and madam, Julia Bulette; however, there is an even richer side to the celebrated boomtown.
Virginia City is a small town of characters, businesses, and community pride unparalleled by any other; the rich history of its’ past only lends to the incredible spirit of being there today. The wooden sidewalks are reminiscent of a wild west that we read about in books or see recreated on television and movies, and the mining relics remind us of vast riches that helped build our country.
However, this tiny community tucked in the hills of Nevada not far from the hustle and bustle of the biggest little city in the world has even greater riches to offer than the past; the people and businesses here are contributing to the local environment and keeping their town vital and interesting.
Businesses like Forever Christmas, Grandma’s Fudge Factory, The Bucket of Blood Saloon, and The Ponderosa Saloon have been staples on the town’s main street for years. They each have unique stories about how they have contributed to the success of Virginia City over the years.
Some places, like The Red Dog Saloon, are part of American history; the Saloon played an important role in the American music scene in the early 1960s. What eventually became the term “hippie” would come from music out of The Red Dog Saloon from hipster music. Each year, The Saloon commemorates their roots by hosting a Hipsters of the High West celebration.
Other establishments are purported to be haunted by ghosts, like The Ponderosa Saloon, The Silver Queen, The Gold Hill Hotel (Gold Hill – 1 mile south of Virginia City, but still part of The Comstock), Saint Mary’s Art Center, and many others.
Virginia City and mining are synonymous, and Comstock Mining, Inc. is a dynamic player in the community. Although they do not mine in the heart of town, their contributions are felt throughout the county. They have begun a revitalization campaign with efforts to restore some of the mills and other dilapidated mining structures, they purchased Nevada’s oldest running hotel and kept it going, and they are working with a historian to continue their efforts in the most effective way possible. A win for all.
While the businesses are interesting and fun, they are not the heart of the town; the characters are the reason to vote for Virginia City to get a facelift from Benjamin Moore.
The town is filled with locals who have lived in the area all their life, transplants that have arrived within the last few years, newly arrived residents, and, of course, tourists. On any given day, you can walk down the quaint wooden sidewalks, heels clacking on the boards, puffing on candy cigarette from Barrels-O-Candy, or drinking a Bloody Mary from The Delta Saloon and stop to feed a carrot and take a picture with Stinky and his donkey, Bernadine. Likely, he will tell you a story about his ass and his wife, sometimes it is challenging to tell who he is talking about.
If you are sitting in the famous Bucket of Blood saloon on a Saturday afternoon, listening to David John and the Comstock Cowboys, you may be served by John’s wife Deena dressed in period clothing that she makes herself or by Grant or his father, Steve, owners of the bar. On just the right weekend, you may even meet Fred Dutton, proprietor of Fred’s Closet, a Victorian and Western Wear shop located just one block up from the town’s main street. Dutton is also the founder of the local charity organization The 601 Vigilance Committee; they hold charity events and donate the proceeds to other organizations.
Swing by the legendary Gold Hill Hotel and have a drink with Wilson and chances are he will tell you a story or two from the days of yesteryear.
Some of the town’s charming citizens do not even live there; a group known as “The Texans” can be found there often. Frosty and Debbie, and Robert and Mindy come to town several times a year and immerse themselves in the culture. They dress in period clothing, and contribute to local events. For several years, the group has hosted a New Year’s breakfast at St. Mary’s Art Center, donating proceeds to the Center.
Frosty, Chief Information Security Officer, works for the Texas Secretary of State, but still finds the time to participate in Virginia City’s Living Legends program. He acts as a docent to tourists, representing goodwill as he walks the streets of town.
The town’s sheriff, Jerry Antinoro, may be one of the biggest assets, and certainly a proponent for Main Street Matters. Antinoro believes in the broken window theory; essentially, the more broken down a main street looks, the more dilapidated the town becomes.
Antinoro does not just pay this theory lip service or use it as a political campaign to further his career, he lives it. When an opportunity arose for him to save the taxpayers in his county millions of dollars and for him to move his offices to the main street, he jumped and move into a vacant building, he jumped at the chance.
He was able to get his old jail renovated at a fraction of the cost, using inmate labor, and moving into the unoccupied space made sense. He is now right down town and able to walk up and down the streets amongst the merchants, residents, and tourists; additionally, his offices are welcoming and friendly instead of miles away and disconnected.
The sheriff is cultivating a spirit of community where law enforcement and citizens can work hand-in-hand in crime prevention, safety, and involvement.
While every town across the nation has their reasons for winning the contest with Benjamin Moore, Virginia City has the pride, spirit, and history to deserve the facelift.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent / Product Specialist