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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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New signs now point the way to uptown
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A new sign on Main Street near the courthouse square points people in the direction of businesses and attractions uptown. The signs were a goal of a 2010 Uptown Revitalization Master Plan, said Susan McCulloch, the city’s community planner and project manager. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Friday, June 21, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

If you’re not sure where FAHI’s new African American Museum and Multi-Cultural Center is, check out one of the new blue signs in Martinsville.

Can’t find the Uptown Farmer’s Market or Studio 107? A blue sign with “Uptown” in a circle on top can help.

And once you’ve found the attractions, where can you park? Again, a blue sign with a “P” and an arrow points the way.

A total of 53 of the blue signs have been installed around the area to direct visitors to amenities, arts and other facilities uptown.

Among the organizations and buildings identified on the signs are the New College Institute (NCI), the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH), Piedmont Arts, TheatreWorks, Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum, YMCA, Municipal Building, Uptown Farmer’s Market, Courthouse Square, West Piedmont Business Development Center, Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI)’s African American Museum and Multi-Cultural Center, Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Rives Theatre and Studio 107.

All 12 double signs, 22 single signs and 19 single signs that include parking messages have been installed, according to Susan McCulloch, the city’s community planner and project manager.

They can be seen along U.S. 58, Virginia 57, the Smith River Sports Complex, Starling Avenue, and Market, Main, Fayette, Church and Lester streets in the city.

The signs were a goal of a 2010 Uptown Revitalization Master Plan, said McCulloch. The plan showed that one-way streets can be confusing to visitors, as are the locations of some cultural, arts and other amenities, she said.

“Having signs helps group the assets together and shows people how to get there,” she said.

Another reason for the signs is the location of Market Street, which was built several years ago to bypass uptown, McCulloch said. The street “was, in effect, a throughway away from all the arts and cultural attractions,” she said.

Now, the new signs will help bring people back to uptown, McCulloch said.

The signs include directions to more than one location, so visitors can stop at numerous attractions in the same area, she said.

Also, the signs direct visitors to the Visitor’s Center, because “a lot of people still don’t know that we have that” uptown in the Artisan Center, McCulloch said.

The Visitor’s Center provides directions and even more information about things to do in the community, she said.

The signs — called “wayfinding signs” — would not have been possible without community support, McCulloch said, mentioning the Harvest Foundation, the West Piedmont Planning District Commission,” input from “a large group of people from all different organizations, a Gateway-Wayfinding Subcommittee and others.

A $193,860 grant from the Harvest Foundation covered the cost of the signs, she said.

Martinsville made in-kind contributions by determining where the signs would be placed and helping with the planning phases of the project, as well as helping determine what was written on the signs and the placement of directional arrows, McCulloch said.

The work done was by city departments of Planning and Zoning, Engineering and Public Works.

Some of those services generally are contracted, but were not in this case — mainly due to timeline issues and “trying to get the project moving quicker,” she said.


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