A Marketing Tool


The South Main historic village brand was clear through decades of restoration and has been supported through legislation. Few places have an organic brand as strong as that of South Main. We need:

1) Sharp Focus
Successful brands are presented clearly, undiluted and unambigously. Every aspect supports the brand. The brand of each of our three historic areas is distinct and unique, the market draw for each is different — and each deserves to be developed in sharp focus: South Main, North Main and Frenchtown. Homogenization and dilution damage the brand of all. Reducing South Main to merely a 'shopping center' diminishes our value and brand.

2) The Whole
The comprehensive vision is unrealized. The richness and depth of the South Main vision is yet to be fully developed.

What distinguishes the South Main Historic District
from any other collection of shops & restaurants, any other neighborhood?

1) Authenticity
Original architecture exudes an ambience that cannot be reproduced. Continuous restoration, unbroken by out-of-character architecture and details is rare. The District is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

2) Brand
The "historic village" brand of South Main existed and developed naturally, organically: residents, shops, restaurants, historic architecture. Early planning and legislation supported the balance that conveys our unique brand. Call it brand, ambience, identity... visitors are drawn to the South Main historic village by whichever term you use. All aspects of our appearance, the events we offer and the promotion of South Main must project a strong, cohesive and quality brand message.

3) Preservationists
The restoration years required extraordinary tenacity, perseverance, a clear unified vision of the future, concern for the whole, and a passion for the task. Preservationists are an integral part of the South Main soul. Their care and passion formed the character of South Main. This place and those people matter.

4) Green Space
Frontier Park was developed as a wide and unobstructed view of the Missouri River with the restored Depot as a centerpiece — passive green space to frame and add to the beauty of the Historic District also protects the value of the District.

5) Surrounding Environment
Early in the restoration efforts, it was realized that the the perception and image of the Historic District was highly influenced by the surrounding neighborhood. "Extended Historic District" concerns were included in legislation.

6) Protective Legislation
Truth: The District must look prosperous to be prosperous. A well-maintained and well-preserved District attracts customers with discretionary income and quality merchants. Protective legislation encourages investment and protects property values, ensures that our National Register Historic District is preserved and protected for future generations. Early restoration efforts were supported by residents, property owners and merchants with a passion for the comprehensive vision of what could be created from the rubble. In sync, the city developed early legistation and planning that promised to preserve and protect the results of citizens' dedication and extraordinary efforts by many. See 'Architectural Design Guidelines for the South Main Street Historic District'. See Planning & Ordinances.

7) Cohesion
Successful branding and marketing require a cohesive, consistent, clear message. The basis for cohesion must be provided by legislation, a strong CVB mission and a comprehensive plan for South Main.

8) Quantity and Quality

  • quantity of original, restored archtecture
  • quality of restoration, preservation, and appearance ensured by legislation which includes a strong Landmarks Board
  • city planning that protects private investments and the Historic District as a city asset of all St. Charles citizens
  • promotion efforts that support an image of quality and our unique brand
  • quality merchants within quality properties draw quality customers with more disposable income

Questions for the future:

  • Will a strong and distinct South Main brand be supported by the city or will it be lost and muddied in successive compromises, homogenization and disjointed efforts?
  • Will early restoration and branding efforts be diminished through the loss of memory?
  • A strong brand is essential for successful marketing. The South Main historic village brand is part of our DNA. If discarded, for what?
  • Will the passion for the vision die through lack of support for Historic District values?
  • Will concern for the comprehensive whole degrade?

Some misinterpret... no, of course merchants are not expected to offer period correct merchandise or dress in vintage fashions; no, events do not have to be reenactments — but promoting the historic village theme i.e. displaying contemporary merchandise with antique shop fixtures goes far in supporting the brand and carries the ambiance inside as well as outside, compatible events are another example.

Many visitors would not label themselves as preservationists or history buffs... but visitors of all ages are attracted by the unique ambience provided by our original architecture and gaslit brick street alongside the Missouri River. They are charmed to learn that people live within our historic village; the residential component of the village is as crucial as the other components in conveying our historic village brand.

For many visitors, the draw is not individual shops & restaurants, but the ambience of the whole which leads them to wander our many shops.

The quality, authenticity and quantity of our historic architecture contributes to the visitor's sense that this is a very special place. Therefore, a strong interdependence exists between economic health and high standards in historic district preservation. We must look prosperous to be prosperous.

Preservation sets us apart from other shopping/dining experiences. Strong historic branding in our marketing and promotion efforts emphasizes our one-of-a-kind package: shopping, dining and lodging within an authentic historic village ambience. Quality special events that complement the historic village theme strengthen the brand.

A concern for the whole is essential and crucial.

Following are some marketing tools developed by SMPS members and others:

Rendezvous in St. Charles
Main Street marketing site
developed by SMPS members

iPod Walking Tour
developed by CVB
South Main Walking Tour
developed by Carolyn Whetzel
& CVB under Steve Powell
Downtown (North Main) Walking Tour
developed by several SMPS/HDD members
Preservation Journal
work in progress
developed by several SMPS/HDD members
and others