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This Main Street is Alive

Recently, the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania invited Perfume Professor to give an afternoon lecture on Edward Steichen’s recently restored and showcased murals, “In Exaltation of Flowers.” (Her talk was well attended and received.) The Perfume Professor graciously asked me to accompany her on this brief adventure. I’m glad that I tagged along.

Nestled in the Delaware River Valley, Doylestown boasts a lively, walkable downtown and a vibrant cultural life. Restaurants, bars, small businesses, and even a fine bookstore fill the main street storefronts. Four museums sit in this small town. As does a fully restored movie theater.

County Theater

County Theater, Doylestown, Pennsylvania on a January morning (Photograph by author).

The County Theater stands as a major regional draw and screens new and classic films on a daily basis. An active board of directors and a professional staff oversee and operate the movie house. In fact, the County Theater has raised over $2.3 million dollars for an expansion project. During a successful fund-raising campaign last fall, over 1,000 supporters donated $500,000, earning $250,000 from a single anonymous donor. A total of $750,000!

Cultural amenities help drive the Doylestown economy. They attract visitors searching for the best of small-town life. They foster community and civic pride.

While traditional main streets struggle amid the death of retail and coastal cities siphoning off financial and human capital, Doylestown appears to be thriving. Any local chamber of commerce or government official hoping to enliven a struggling downtown might wish to take a trip to Doylestown. There’s plenty to learn.


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