Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

September 7, 2013

Welcome to the neighborhood

By Rob Cox Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG — In both a literal and a figurative sense, Sarah Robinson is moving down on MainStreet.

The 24-year-old Chesterton native started Tuesday as the new executive director of MainStreet Greensburg, having recently graduated Ball State University with a Master’s degree in Historic Preservation.

The Daily News caught up with her Friday afternoon at MainStreet’s summer Farmer’s Market at the Courthouse, where she was kind enough to provide an impromptu interview.

Her expertise, she said, is in helping non-profit MainStreet organizations like Greensburg’s protect and preserve old and historic structures.

“I know how to correctly preserve all the building’s down here [on Greensburg’s downtown square],” she said. “I know all the architectural styles, and I know how to research these buildings and their histories.”

Such skills and knowledge, she added, are critical in the restoration of historic structures.

MainStreet Greensburg President Stephanie Kress said she and the other five members of the search committee who ultimately hired Robinson were extremely impressed.

“We thought she was a great candidate for this job because of a great background in Historic Preservation,” Kress said. “She’s done extensive hands-on historic-preservation work in several small communities in this region.”

Those communities include North Vernon, Muncie, Columbus, Lawrenceburg and Nashville, Ind., Kress added.

“We’re excited,” she continued, “that she has a lot of knowledge about social media; she knows how to build a website. She’s interested not only in sustaining our organization, but in growing it and she has the skills to do so. We think she’s going to do a great job in helping get the word out about MainStreet Greensburg and raising our profile in the community.”

Robinson comes to the job with a nearly life-long interest in the preservation of old buildings.

“My dad is English,” she explained. “We took a lot of trips to Europe when I was growing up and that’s how I developed my interest in historic preservation.”

In the United States, she added, preservation doesn’t seem to “come as naturally” as it does in Europe. Robinson suspects the reason for that is a matter of history and a lack thereof here compared to in Europe.

“The history there goes back so much further,” she said, adding that the mindset regarding what’s old is much different across the pond. “In the United States, a building that’s 50 years old might be considered old, but in Europe that’s nothing.”

Former MainStreet Executive Director Bryan Robbins was also part of the committee that hired Robinson.

“I’m excited to welcome Sarah to the community,” Robbins said. “I’m excited about the job she’s going to do. I’ve no doubt the whole community will be as helpful to her as they were to me. A single person can’t accomplish everything that needs to be done in the city center; the progress that needs to continue is community driven and achieved. She’ll be a great leader in that regard, but also a critical part of it, I think.”

Robbins stressed that the community can’t expect Robinson to build and move MainStreet forward on her own. As such, he entreated the community to embrace her, “like they did me. I couldn’t have accomplished anything with MainStreet Greensburg without the community behind me.”

Robinson echoed her predecessor in sharing her thoughts on why it’s important for the entire community to be involved in MainStreet’s mission.

“Communities are founded in their downtowns,” she said. “It’s important for each community to remember its roots and where it started. It’s important to embrace that. That’s why a focus on community and community involvement is the number one emphasis of MainStreet organizations.”

Robbins, who succeeded David Fry as director of the Hospital Foundation of Decatur County, stressed he will remain involved in MainStreet Greensburg.

“I’ll still be around helping,” he said, adding that he’s confident Robinson will “make the job her own. She’s got some great ideas and I’m anxious to them happen.”

Robbins also helped Robinson find an apartment here in town. Though she’ll be working from City Hall, she’ll be living in an apartment overlooking the downtown square. That apartment, located along Main Street, isn’t yet ready for occupancy, as it’s being renovated. As such, Robinson is currently commuting from Muncie about two times weekly and performing the rest of the job remotely.

“Bryan made some calls and let me know the apartment was available,” she explained. “I’m so excited about the opportunity to live right downtown where I’m working.”

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011