Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, Mount Vernon’s Main Street runs through the heart of Knox County. While the convenience of superstores and fast-food chains along Coshocton Avenue threatens the area’s family-owned businesses, citizens continue to value local, independent establishments that make downtown unique. Though most lunch counters have disappeared and fashionable department stores have closed, other Main Street gathering places are being reborn. Today, First Friday Cruise-Ins have replaced Friday night cruising around the Public Square. The Saturday morning Farmers Market evokes 1950s family shopping trips to Pitkin’s Corner. These revitalization efforts hold promise that Main Street will continue to draw the Knox County community together along its wide sidewalks and quaint stores.

“At older places like Zink’s Market you would walk in and know whoever’s running the store. It sounds like a cliché, but everybody knew everyone; everything was a conversation. Not too far removed, Main Street was that.” Corby Wise, advertising manager, Mount Vernon News

“The majority of Mount Vernon probably goes to Coshocton Avenue, but there is still a population who appreciates [Main Street]. I still appreciate it even though I don’t go down there as much as I’d like. You know you’re in a specific city when you’re on Main Street; when you’re on Coshocton, you could be anywhere.” Lee Schott, Mount Vernon High School Class of 2005

“My mother worked at Ringwalt’s for about eighteen years, and oftentimes I would pick her up when the stores closed on Friday nights. Stores closed at nine back then, and you were lucky if you got the customers out by nine-thirty. You could hardly get through the downtown, it was so busy then.” Susan Kempton, Mount Vernon native

The Heritage Centre Association’s First Friday Cruise-Ins recall aspects of Friday night cruising of the 1960s–1980s, when young adults would drive from one end of Main Street to the other. Courtesy Andrew Ricard 
Stadler’s, and later Ringwalt’s and Rudin’s, was among the many department and clothing stores that were seldom without a busy crowd. Courtesy Knox County Historical Society 

An electric streetcar once weaved through downtown, providing public transportation before the increased use of personal automobiles. Courtesy Knox County Historical Society 
Monthly First Friday events are popular among people of all ages. Courtesy Andrew Ricard 
Lunch counters at institutions like Heckler’s Pharmacy and Jody’s Diner attracted both high schoolers and professionals to Main Street for social afternoon meals. Courtesy Sips Café 
In 1966 Look Magazine designated Mount Vernon an “All-American City,” in part because of its historically bustling downtown. Courtesy Sips Café