The Brenham Main Street program is undergoing an organizational shift.
Effective immediately, Brenham | Washington County Economic Development will manage the program, which focuses on investing in and preserving Brenham’s downtown district. The responsibility for Brenham Main Street will transition from Jennifer Eckermann, who has led the program for 20 years, to Brenham | Washington County Economic Development Director Susan Cates, who will also be appointed as the city’s Historic Preservation Officer.
Cates said the city wanted to delegate some of Eckermann's duties, which include serving as the city’s director of tourism and marketing, particularly as the city moves forward with plans to acquire and operate The Barnhill Center.
Eckermann will be responsible for The Barnhill Center and overseeing Brenham Main Street Historical Preservation, Inc., the nonprofit organization that headed the facility’s renovation project.
Update @ 1:25 p.m.: Eckermann and City Manager Carolyn Miller were unavailable for an interview to discuss the changes to the Main Street program. However, in a press release from the city late this (Wednesday) morning, Eckermann said she looks forward to working with the nonprofit to “help shape what the Simon can mean to this community,” and wants to ensure that the property “continues to contribute to downtown Brenham and the quality of life in our community.” Miller said there has been “enormous support for the Simon,” and that the city looks forward to “continuing this success under Jennifer’s leadership.” Miller said the city is excited for Cates and her team to “build upon Jennifer’s legacy” with the Main Street program.
Cates said the shift also provides an opportunity to look at the program through an economic development lens, and believes this will be “a natural and very seamless transition.”
Prior to coming to Brenham in 2019, Cates worked in Mexia where she helped found the Mexia Downtown Association, a 501(c)(3) organization that focused on revitalizing the city’s downtown corridor. To assist with her new role as Historic Preservation Officer, she will attend the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions Forum July 13-17 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Meanwhile, Eckermann will go to the League of Historic American Theatres National Conference July 10-13 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Brenham Main Street continues to look for a Main Street Manager, tasked with the primary operational responsibilities and day-to-day operations for the program. The position will be supervised by Cates. The city is first searching for a candidate internally before electing to post the position.