Bringing the heart back to Downtown / by Annette Tait

I just came back from a whirlwind trip through parts of California (I grew up there).  Most of my jaunts out there are like that -- have to squeeze them in between calves and crops, you know!

While I was there I treated myself to a morning stop in Lincoln. This gem is +/- about 30 miles northeast of Sacramento on Hwy 65.

At the turn of the 1900's Lincoln was a "boom town."  I would imagine it began its decline in the 1970s or so.  Back in the ‘80s I bought my horse hay at the feed store on the corner -- the standing joke was that Lincoln had to "borrow" its Saturday-night police from Marysville.

I used to buy hay in this beautifully revamped building!

I used to buy hay in this beautifully revamped building!

Over the years Lincoln has grown. And grown. And Grown

But OUTSIDE of the city border. Downtown became sadly neglected. Buildings were run down. Store fronts empty.

About a dozen years ago the good people of Lincoln -- many of them "old timers" -- came together to revitalize the old section.  Buildings were revamped, they enticed people to come and see the possibilities, and did some creative wheeling and dealing to get the storefronts filled.  There's a great video about it: The Preservation of Historical Downtown Lincoln

Several years ago a friend of mine asked if I had been to Lincoln lately, and I said, “Not in years, nuthin' there!”  So she cheerfully informed that there was, indeed, plenty there.

Lincoln quilt shop.png

Everything from food and antiques to a fab quilt shop -- all things to pique my interest. I found much to like and did some shopping J  (much to hubby’s chagrin).

Fast forward another few years. This trip I had time to spend the entire morning and early afternoon.  So, my morning was spent having coffee with my son at a sidewalk café and walking all over Old Town. We had a wonderful time exploring and visiting with shop owners! Everybody was so friendly and helpful.

Our only bummer was that we were there before the museum opened, and by the time it was, we were already around the corner at Kim's Café -- an outstanding café with heaping plates of down home cookin' -- having late brunch with other family in the area.

A late brunch at Kim's Café.

A late brunch at Kim's Café.

Lincoln boasts a number of eateries, antique stores, boutiques, thrift shops, wineries, brewpubs, gardening/gift shops, and more.  It is quite the bustling area, offering something for everybody.  Even my son was practically giddy when he found a shop that interested him.

Nearly every single store has outdoor seating and all have wonderful signage designed to attract attention. Several of the buildings have beautiful murals on them. Even the lone “box” store is in keeping with the Old Town vibe. 

The seating is amazing. Just by sitting down outside the coffee shop, people TALKED as they went by! And when People talk, Community happens.

"Honoring the Past While Embracing the Future."

"Honoring the Past While Embracing the Future."

Lincoln also hosts many events to draw people and have a good times -- events from antique car shows to food truck extravaganzas, and everything in between.

When you're not busy eating, visiting, or shopping in one of the great shops, take a little time and drive around the heart of Lincoln and its neighborhoods.  The architecture is amazing.

A stop in at the Lincoln Area Chamber was part of making my way around town, and I had a wonderful visit with Tom Cosgrove, Chamber director. We had a few minutes to chat about the creativity involved with attracting businesses back to Downtown, and how rosy the future looks.

I will definitely be back again. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

Art, Architecture, Geography, Commerce, People, History, Customs and Cuisine- Yep! Covered ALL of "Kate's 8" items that all communities begin with.