Manassas, Virginia

Virginia | 2003 Great American Main Street Award® Winner | Posted: 5/19/2003

Throughout history, Manassas, Virginia has been challenged with staving off invaders. During the Civil War, Union and Confederate forces battled over its railroad which linked the Nation's capitol to the South and left the town in ruins. Manassas slowly recovered and prospered until it met a 20th century invader-suburban sprawl. Its downtown became a hollow core surrounded by new development. Sprawl's impact on retail and service businesses was profound, resulting in many empty storefronts and vacant buildings.

Business owners, government officials, and city leaders rallied to make a change. They formed the Historic Manassas organization and earned a Virginia Main Street designation in 1988. It initially focused on improving Old Town Manassas' image through public improvements projects such as a pavilion for ice-skating and festivals and streetscaping projects.

The Main Street program worked tirelessly to renovate: the 1914 train depot into a state visitor center and its headquarters; its county courthouse into the Clerk of the Court offices; its candy factory, which had been boarded up for 25 years, into an arts center; and the opera house into a gourmet food store.

Manassas Main Street has matured as an organization and a partner with the community in economic development. Its revitalization efforts have contributed to the renovation of 54 buildings, creation of 350 jobs, and private investment of $12 million. Manassas celebrates 100 percent occupancy in Old Town and upper story housing in 95 percent of its downtown buildings. Old Town Manassas sparkles by day and sizzles by night. It is now a crossroads that draws customers and delights the community.

The National Trust Main Street Center awarded Manassas a 2003 Great American Main Street Award on May 19, 2003, during the National Trust's annual Town Meeting on Main Street conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio.

To learn more about the National Trust's Great American Main Street Awards, contact Camille Inez at (202) 588-6140 or read the About the Awards section. For more information about Manassas' efforts to revitalize their historic commercial district, contact Historic Manassas, Inc. at (703) 361-6599 or visit