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City of Brenham Announces Organizational Changes for Main Street Brenham

The City of Brenham announced organizational changes with Main Street Brenham and the Barnhill Center at the Historic Simon Theater (Simon). These changes reflect decisions made earlier this year by City Council to move forward with the acquisition and operation of the Simon. The Main Street Brenham program has been led by the Tourism and Marketing Department but has transitioned to Brenham | Washington County Economic Development. The acquisition of the Simon shifted responsibility for the facility, combined with oversight of the non-profit entity, Brenham Main Street Historical Preservation, Inc. (BMSHP), to be under City leadership requiring the following changes within the organization:

  • Jennifer Eckermann, Director of Tourism and Marketing will oversee the Simon. Eckermann said, “I look forward to working with the non-profit to help shape what the Simon can mean to this community.” She continued, “The efforts of the non-profit saved this building. As ownership transitions to the City of Brenham, we want to ensure that this historic property continues to contribute to Downtown Brenham and the quality of life in our community.”
  • Susan Cates, Director of Brenham | Washington County Economic Development will oversee Main Street Brenham and serve as Historic Preservation Officer. Cates says, “Main Street Brenham was the original economic driver in Brenham and remains the heart of our business community! I am excited to continue the legacy of preserving the past while celebrating both the present and future of our Historic Downtown as we incorporate Main Street Brenham into the Economic Development Organization that serves Washington County.”

City Manager, Carolyn Miller states, “The City proudly recognizes and applauds the decade-long restoration efforts of the Simon as a historic downtown landmark.  Our community has shown enormous support for the Simon, and we look forward to continuing this success under Jennifer’s leadership.” She continued, “Main Street Brenham has a solid, successful foundation and we are excited for Susan and her team to build upon Jennifer’s legacy with the program.”

Main Street Brenham

Main Street is dedicated to the revitalization and preservation of historic downtown business districts throughout the country. It is sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and, in Texas, the Texas Historical Commission. These sponsors, through the National Main Street Center, provide direction and support to over 1,000 community programs nationwide. Together, these programs have produced an investment in these districts of more than $5 billion and spurred the rehabilitation of countless historic structures, while providing space for 27,000 new businesses and creating over 100,000 new jobs for local citizens.

The foundation and success of Main Street is based on a cooperative effort between the sponsors and the local government, business owners, and lending institutions within the communities that have joined the program. Since rejoining Main Street in 1999, the City of Brenham has experienced a dynamic improvement in its historic downtown district thanks in part to more than $2.25 million spent to date in reinvestment activities.

The Barnhill Center at the Historic Simon Theater

Twenty years ago, the Simon, built in 1925, was purchased by BMSHP, a non-profit entity organized to preserve the architectural heritage of Downtown Brenham, as a historically significant building in Downtown that was past its prime. It was in considerable disrepair and needed a new lease on life if it were to contribute to downtown’s future.

This group held community meetings to discuss the future of the Simon Theatre and determined its fate as a downtown conference and event center. All these years later, as Simon’s 100th Anniversary nears, this completed facility is home to Visit Brenham/Washington County as a multi-purpose meeting and event center. After meticulous million-plus dollar renovation, the grand style lives on for future generations. Soon after BMSHP purchased the Simon Theatre in 2003, a theatre consultant – whose company managed and operated renovated theatres across the country – was hired to help determine the best use for this historic property.  Following Town Hall public meetings, with representatives from throughout the community, the Board felt confident that a downtown conference center would contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of our community, and they developed a business plan.  Today, the Simon is enjoyed by many for events ranging from meetings and conferences to classic and independent films, and live music and performances to wedding ceremonies.