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Spotlight on Mt. Sterling: Turning an old town hub into a gathering place

Posted at 6:37 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 18:37:12-04

MT. STERLING, Ky. (LEX 18) — Main Street in Mount Sterling has seen a revitalization over the past decade that even a once-in-century pandemic couldn't stop.

On Monday, we shined a spotlight on those businesses who are rebounding, the heartbeat of the community.

But on the other side of the "tracks" downtown, people are thinking of ways to take a long-neglected part of the past into the future.

Less than ten years ago, the area along South Maysville Street toward a creek was a neglected part of the city.

"This was pretty much just a blank slate. Lots of gravel...It was sort of like the bad part of town," said Dr. Danielle King, a city council member.

Dr. King says she works tirelessly to bring new life to the downtown area.

"There's an element of pride here because you're so proud of the town you live in," said King.

"So we started thinking of ways to use this part of downtown, and to bring more people into town, and to utilize the walking, and biking, and bring our farmers' market downtown," said Tracy Pearce, Mount Sterling/Montgomery County Tourism Director.

The area has transformed into Adena Trail, which leads to a dog park. The town recently saw the addition of a crown jewel: the Market Pavilion.

"Since then, we've been able to do our First Friday markets here. We also have activity and exercise activity and exercise groups here. And we utilize it for many events now," said King.

Cay Lane loves to walk to the farmers market that's held here over the summer. It’s a return to an area that for decades was a major hub.

"This area was where the C&O Train came through many years ago. In fact, I used to ride it when I was a freshman in college," said Lane. "It was a very big part of Mount Sterling at that point."

The tracks were pulled decades ago, but one vital part of the town's past remains.

The walking trail and the pavilion were certainly game changers for this part of downtown Mount Sterling. But Pearce says she can't wait to see the next step, which appears to be the restoration of an old train depot.

Train Depot Montgomery County.jpg

"The roof was caving in. There was a little bit of graffiti on the outside of the building and that's still being restored," said Pearce.

Pearce says the new owners have replaced the roof, and are currently evaluating how the building will fit into the town's future.

"But anything is possible when everybody wants to work together and we'll make it happen," said Pearce.

A town that's outlasted a civil war, two global pandemics, countless floods and the Great Depression is still finding room to grow.