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Main Street Champions

Our NC Main Street Champions

Each year at the NC Main Street Conference, The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center recognize the efforts of dedicated individuals who have contributed to the success of the local programs across our state. Each NC Main Street program may designate one individual, couple, organization, business partnership or civic entity as their community’s NC Main Street Champion. A non-competitive award, designation honors those persons who have made extraordinary contributions to their downtown.

Daniel & Rebecca Phillips

2023 NC Main Street Champions

TOGETHER WE CREATE ….sweet success! When Rebecca and Daniel Phillips chose Downtown Lenoir as their place to launch their business, Moonjoy Meadery, they were bee-lined for success from the beginning. Joined by their partner, Margret Moose, Rebecca’s mother, they exceeded their projections even in the first year and watched their ten-year dream continue to grow over the years. Now into their 3rd year, they have perfected numerous and award-winning recipes of mead, a fermented alcohol made from honey mixed with water, and often with added ingredients. As their business grew, so has their involvement in Downtown Lenoir. Rebecca and Danial organized and hosted Love the Spring in Lenoir Festival celebrating mead, craft beer and local artisans; are active contributors to all downtown events; and serve on the DLDA Board. Making a long-term commitment as property owners, the Philips have recently purchased a two-story contributing building in the district; expanded and relocated their business to this historic structure; and invested $660k in private rehabilitation cost into this luxury work-live space. Like true Champions, Rebecca and Daniel have been busy as bees contributing to the sweet success of Downtown Lenoir.

Katie and Taylor Brummett, Jamie and Tommy Brubaker

2022 NC Main Street Champions

In two thousand nineteen, Katie and Taylor Brummett, and, Jamie and Tommy Brubaker, purchased the former Lenoir City Bus Station, renovated the space, and opened the Liquid Roots Brewery Project. Liquid Roots Brewery now serves as a community, family, and pet-friendly gathering space. These business owners demonstrate their commitment to the downtown by hosting numerous non-profit fundraising events. They also collaborate with several downtown businesses in joint promotional activities and participate in all downtown festivals. Through their open-mic nights, cornhole tournaments, live music gigs, and Infusion Food Truck, they bring hundreds of folks into downtown weekly to celebrate with family and friends. These champions also serve on community boards, including the Downtown Lenoir Development Alliance. The Liquid Roots Brewery owners summed up their thoughts about downtown this way: “At Liquid Roots, we love being creative, bringing people together, and making people happy. Community – that’s what drives us every day. We want to be part of this spot that celebrates all things local and participate in the growth that is taking place here.” Congratulations to Lenoir’s two thousand twenty-two Main Street Champions Katie and Taylor Brummett, and Jamie and Tommy Brubaker.

Steven & Jamie Stewart

2021 NC Main Street Champions

TOGETHER WE CREATE … vibrancy from vacancy! Steven and Jamie Stewart did just that! The Stewarts took on the challenge of fully renovating a vacant 1925 two-story brick building, with deteriorating exterior brick walls, collapsing floors, and moldy walls. The Stewarts, who participated in the Moving Lenoir to the Second-Floor program, created a vision for the space and designed it to offer ground-floor commercial space and a three-bedroom, two-bath luxury apartment on the second floor.

The commercial space now houses their insurance agency, Stewart & Associates, and they are frequently seen dining downtown with clients. Prior to the completion of the apartment, which overlooks Downtown Lenoir’s two-story Thomas Sayer sculpture, the Stewarts had secured a signed lease.

A once neglected corner has gone from vacancy to vibrancy with the help of Steven and Jamie Stewart and Lenoir is proud to name them its NC Main Street Champions.

Jesse Plaster

2020 NC Main Street Champion

Preservation architect Jesse Plaster takes pride in bringing vacant, distressed downtown Lenoir properties back into use. These are buildings that his great-great-grandfather would have seen newly constructed and Jesse bring a passion for that historical connection to his work in downtown Lenoir. His first renovation, a well-loved brick property on Harper Avenue accommodates several businesses. His next project, affectionately referred to as “Little Building with the BIG IMPACT,” was the district’s first historic tax credit project, won a 2020 North Carolina Main Street Award, and leveraged an abundance of redevelopment opportunities benefiting the historic district. Jesse then constructed five luxury apartments above an event space. His next project, a one-story brick property on Harper Street will be supported by the National Park Service Main Street Façade Improvement Grant program.

This Downtown Champion treasures historic bricks and, thus far, Jesse will have rehabilitated approximately 45,000 square feet of them! With the receipt of this award, Jesse honors the memory of his dear friend and colleague, Jonny Hopper, Jr., who was also an enthusiastic champion of downtown Lenoir’s historic buildings, as well as the Hooper family.

City of Lenoir’s Public Works Sanitation Department

2019 NC Main Street Champions

Driving through our Downtown on a crisp, fall Sunday morning, you would have no idea that just a few hours before there were 15,000 people, 60 vendors, 73 tents, 55 trash cans, 45 tables and dozens of chairs filling our streets for a couple of days. How are the streets pristine and Downtown looking for shiny, clean after such an event? The answer is the City of Lenoir’s Public Works Sanitation Department that is behind the scenes making it all happen! Daily, they are Downtown making sure things are in top shape, but when an event rolls in, they roll out the red carpet! They wash the streets, clean the bins and make sure everything looks great. They also help put out numerous tents, tables and chairs then ask, “OK, what’s next?!” During an event, they meticulously keep up with the trash generated and respond immediately to the needs of the event. Afterwards, they are Downtown to the wee hours rolling up that red carpet leaving behind our beautiful, shiny Downtown for Sunday morning enjoyment! 

Downtown Lenoir Main Street Volunteers

2018 NC Main Street Champions

As they were leaving the Carolina Tattoo & Arts Gathering, one volunteer, turned around and happily hollered back, “When is our next opportunity?!” That is what Lenoir Main Street Volunteers call the chance to serve – an opportunity. But they are the ones providing the opportunities. Downtown Lenoir has the opportunity to grow because of their selflessness and servants’ hearts. Without them, downtown’s four signature events could not have grown. There would not have been additional Music Madness Summertime Gatherings, which showcase downtown to thousands and bring in new property owners and businesses. Even worse, there would be no Christmas trees decorated, cookies baked, wizard hats made, or frogs raced. Downtown would be boring without them. Now, Lenoir is taking the opportunity to honor them as North Carolina Main Street Champions to express sincere appreciation for all they do with joyful spirits to ensure that TOGETHER WE CREATE Downtown Lenoir.

City of Lenoir Fire Department

Coming to the rescue. That’s what they do. Every day. From the extraordinary act of saving a life to the kindness of extending a hand, you can depend on them. Whatever the task, their spirit of service is always evident. The mark of a true champion. They come to the aid of the Lenoir Main Street Program whenever there is an event downtown. They are there behind the scenes beforehand providing coolers of ice and lending many hands to set up tents, tables and chairs; during an event coming to the aid of participants; and late in the evening, ‘What else can we do?’ is oftentimes heard. For co-sponsored events, their services are in-kind delivered with kindness and a smile. They come to our rescue, and to the community’s. We are so grateful to have such a fine group of dedicated fire-fighting champions in the City of Lenoir.

Glenda Wilson

There are times when Glenda Wilson will look across the table, wink, smile and asked, “Which hat do I have on right now?” We find in our communities those individuals who successfully and selflessly wear many hats. She supports a member’s hat from all of the following: Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, the Lenoir Tourism Development Authority, Lenoir Business Advisory Board, and the Lenoir Main Street Promotions Team. As the Promotions Chair, she guides an ever-growing team of volunteers who actively support every event that happens in downtown, and she’s present for them all from start to finish! The NC Blackberry Festival is certainly sweeter because of her years of dedication to that event. Her favorite hats, however, include those as the owner of a successful real estate agency, mother and grandmother. With her many contributions to family, community and Lenoir Main Street, it’s obvious that the champion’s hat suits her so very well.

City of Lenoir Building and Maintenance Division

Creative. Dependable. Supportive. Hard-working. Reliable. Talented. The list of adjectives goes on and on to describe the City of Lenoir Building and Maintenance Division. A group that truly defines what it means to be downtown champions. In addition to their general duties of maintaining 43 public buildings, these champions never fail to come to the aid of downtown development by taking on such special projects as constructing our downtown stage, Christmas decorations, beer gardens, sandwich boards, light-pole banners, festival electric and water infrastructure, and this is the short list of special downtown projects. Not to mention just on the edge of downtown, they renovated a building into a 16-bed homeless shelter facility, constructed community memorials, and created several community gardens putting Lenoir on the front page of Parade Magazine. Downtown and the City of Lenoir are so fortunate to have champions like JR, Mike, Duke, Tommy, Keith, Danny and Charles!

Matthew Underwood

Lenoir’s Living Room! New directors get lots of advice!  My favorite has been “Folks should think of a downtown as the living room of their community!”  If that’s the case, then Matt Underwood sits in the big chair always welcoming someone to come in and have a seat! He is co-founder of the 300 strong Lenoir Grill & Brew Club, which meets weekly at downtown restaurants and cooks for numerous downtown events.  He serves on several city boards and the Art Council – never missing an occasion to invite them to have their activities downtown.  He stops- in to chat with merchants and business owners regularly encouraging patronage and support of their business. If anyone wants to promote an event and fill-up the living room, they simply have to tap into his social media which reaches hundreds of community members.  And according to Matt, there is always room for more!