History

The Beginning: The Heart of Tyler Main Street Program is Tyler's only 501©3 non-profit organization solely dedicated to the economic, cultural and historic revitalization of downtown Tyler. We work in association with the City of Tyler, the Texas Main Street Program of the Texas Historical Commission and the National Main Street Center of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Heart of Tyler is a volunteer-driven, 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

In 1987, a group of citizens concerned about the decline of downtown Tyler formed a non-profit organization called Heart of Tyler, Inc. The organization worked with existing groups to plan, promote and coordinate mutual goals for downtown.

Main Street Program Designation: In 1990, the Texas Historical Commission offered a Main Street program for cities with populations over 50,000. Tyler became one of the first communities in Texas to receive the Urban Program designation. The Heart of Tyler Main Street Program officially began on Jan. 22, 1990, when Director Claire Squibb was hired.

Partnership with the City of Tyler: In 2008, downtown revitalization became one of the chief aspects of the community’s ambitious plan for the 21st Century: Tyler 21. When that master plan was adopted, the City of Tyler and Heart of Tyler entered into a new partnership. While Heart of Tyler retained its independence and non-profit status, it also became an advisory group to the City of Tyler. At the same time, the City of Tyler created a Main Street Department and assumed all duties in maintaining the state and national Main Street Program designation and accreditation.

The two entities work hand-in-hand to provide “the best of both worlds” to support the revitalization of Downtown Tyler. The City of Tyler provides office space, staff, policy and programming, among other things, to support the movement. Heart of Tyler provides volunteer time and expertise and private-sector consensus.

Achievements: Since the new partnership began, Downtown Tyler has experienced the following achievements: declaration of downtown as the Downtown Business, Arts and Culture District; moving Heart of Tyler and City of Tyler Main Street Department offices to Erwin; opening and operation of Gallery Main Street; creation of the very successful Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition; creation of new special events such as gallery exhibits and ArtWalk and the renovation and opening of Liberty Hall, among many other milestones.

Heart of Tyler continues to use the very successful Main Street Four Point Approach: we work in the four areas of Organization, Promotion, Economic Restructuring and Design in order to revitalize the downtown area.

The program, now in its 25th year of operation, continues stronger than ever. Volunteers contribute thousands of hours of professional and support services to the downtown revitalization effort each year. In addition to the many honors received for program performance and downtown projects, downtown reinvestment now tops well over $150 million.