Our History

Our DDA's historical roots go back some 40 years to a much different era.

It has been quite the journey since then through the highs and the lows of business activity, the decline of our historic buildings then their revival, the creation of the Urban Renewal District, the stresses of Covid-19 and now the bright future that is laid out in front of us, Here is our story...

CIRCA 1980s

In the middle of the 1980s, the Federal Government provided a grant for the creation and management of a Downtown Association here in Dallas. This grant lasted for a few years and Steffeni Gray was hired throughout the period as the Downtown Manager. This was during some hard times for downtown businesses in small rural towns in Oregon (Dallas population was about 8,900) as they adapted to modern times, but our Association was very successful in organizing itself and helping the merchants weather the vicissitudes of modernization and societal change. Unfortunately, the Federal grant ended after about five years and the economy was in the midst of a bad recession, so the merchants could not raise the funding to continue the program and it disappeared.

2001 - 2006

The formation of the Dallas Renaissance Committee as a subcommittee of the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce in July 2001 heralded the revival of an organization aimed at the revival of historic downtown Dallas. It was guided and Chaired by Brian Dalton and during its years, gathered a roster of some 60 interested parties representing a broad range of the community. Attendance at its regular meetings averaged about 20-25 individuals and its primary mission was introducing its members to the successes of the revival of the downtowns in other cities in the region and with the ultimate goal of evolving into a viable downtown association here in Dallas to execute what was being learned. In this vein, the Committee went on several field trips and had regular guest speakers such as the Mayor of Salem and other luminaries. The trip included group tours of such downtowns as Albany, Corvallis, Independence, McMinnville, and Silverton. The effort of stirring interest in the revival of downtown Dallas was successful and the work and goals of the Renaissance Committee slowly transitioned to that of the new Dallas Urban Renewal District and its Advisory Committee which was adopted by the City Council in August of 2004.


On August 16, 2004, the Dallas City Council adopted the Urban Renewal Plan and formed an Urban Renewal District (URD) with boundaries which included the Central Business District as well as commercial areas north of the Rickreall Creek up to the Hankel Street intersection. The purpose of this roughly $9 million program was and is to provide capital investments into the District to ensure its success and prosperity. Since its inception, the URD has been highly active in improving the infrastructure and the physical ambiance of the District. Included in its many projects has been the four-block Main Street Streetscape work as well as the renovations of facades several of the downtown buildings. The boundary lines of the URD correspond almost exactly with those adopted by the Dallas Downtown Association when it was formed in 2014. Citizen input is provided by the monthly, 7-member meetings of the Urban Renewal District Advisory Committee (URDAC).


In early 2013, the City Council applied for and was awarded the status of "Exploring Downtown" on February 13th with Oregon Main Street Program, a program of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). This brought to bear the planning and organizational advice from SHPO for organizing a downtown association.

In May, Sheri Stuart, the Program Director of Oregon Main Street, made a presentation to the URDAV covering the goals, objectives, and operations of the Main Street Program. She included a summary of the four-committee structure which provides the basis for the operations of a downtown association - Organization, Economic Vitality, Design, and Promotion. 


A significant number of gatherings and meetings were conducted this year concerning the formation of the Association. Among the most important were the following:

  • February 6 - First formal meeting of interested parties exploring the formation of a downtown association. The meeting was at Latitude restaurant in the middle of a significant snowstorm but was well-attended. Sheri Stuart of Oregon Main Street gave a presentation and an outcome was the formation of a steering committee to begin the planning for an Association. 
  • March 4 - An editorial appears in the Itemizer-Observer saying, "We are excited about the idea of a Downtown Dallas Association, but concerned by a recent comment that it may take 3-5 years for that to get off the ground. That may be too late." 
  • March 20 - Second Meeting of the nascent downtown association at the home of Mayor Dalton. About 17 people were in attendance to include Sheri Stuart from the Oregon Main Street program. Sheri advised the group on setting up the organization for the Association. Mark and Cathey Sturtevant were elected as co-chairs. The name "Dallas Downtown Association" was selected for the organization by a vote as was the pursuit of IRS charitable status under the provisions of paragraph 501C(3). 
  • April 14 - Meeting with attorney Lane Shetterly to discuss incorporation and other details of the DDA's organization. In attendance were Mark and Cathey Sturtevant, Kathryn Ross, and Brian Dalton.
  • April 15 - Third Meeting of the DDA at Pressed Coffee. Laura Sales volunteered to become secretary of the organization and Rachel Phelps the Vice-Chair. Gene Henshaw offered to work on the bylaws. Boundary lines for the DDA were established.
  • May 27 - Fourth meeting of the DDA at Pressed Coffee with 21 people in attendance. Tom Kunke and Marlene Cox volunteered to work on the Mission Statement for the Organization. 
  • June - A request from the DDA, for City funding from the Revolving Loan Fund of $22,000 as a 50/50 match with Ford Family Foundation for a University of Oregon Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) participant to act as a downtown manager for 11 months was turned down by the City Council unanimously owing in large part to the limited funding capability of the DDA at the time. 
  • August 19 - A this meeting, attended by 16 individuals, the following Mission Statement was adopted: The mission of the Dallas Downtown Association is to encourage and inspire restoration, economic vitality, the arts, and community spirit in the historic downtown district.
  • September - A DDA website was created and posted to the internet


  • February - The DDA receives IRS tax-exempt status under 501c(3) regulations. The current balance in the DDA bank account is $220.
  • May - A second request from the DDA, supported by the URDAC, for city funding of $22,000 as a 50/50 match for a University of Oregon Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) participant to act as a downtown manager for 11 months was once again turned down by City Council.
  • June - There were a total of 14 paid members and $803.02 in the current account.


  • March - General membership meeting held at Pressed (one of a monthly series). In all, 17 members and guests were in attendance. A grant of $5,100 from the Oregon Arts Commission was received for the Train Mural on Main Street. 
  • April - General membership meeting held at Pressed with 18 people in attendance. Guest lecture by Steffeni Mendoza Gray our Downtown Manager during the 1980s. She described her success as coming from being out and about on Main Street, connecting with merchants, and fostering the idea of historic preservation and building relationships.
  • Summer - A 33-page Business Plan by Brian Dalton for securing and employing a RARE participant as the DDA's Program Manager for 11 months (September 2016 through July 2017) was prepared and submitted as part of the application to the University of Oregon. It detailed funding which was secured in the following amounts: Ford Family Foundation, $10,000; Oregon Community Foundation, $15,000; Pacific Power, $2,000; Grants from local Financial Institutions, $3,000; miscellaneous local donations, $1,000; contribution from the DDA Budget, $1,000; in-kind donations, $6,000. This application was received and approved by the U of O and the DDA selected Emma Guida, a recent graduate of Barnard College to assume the role of Program Manager.
  • August - Train mural completed and celebrated.
  • September - Emma arrived and began her job as the downtown Program Manager, a highly successful tour of duty which carried through until the end of July 2017. Planning begins for the DDA's response to the upcoming Solar Eclipse scheduled for August 21, 2017
  • October - The DDA puts up a Facebook page
  • Winter - The DDA buys and installs holiday lights across the tops of several buildings around the Courthouse Square. Eclipse meetings ongoing, averaging about 20 participants.


  • January to August - This was the year of the Great Eclipse and the DDA spent a great deal of time preparing for and managing this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Otherwise, the Board and membership were greatly engaged in many and varied activities such as a Vision and Planning Retreat, intense work on membership, grants, events such as the Murder Mystery, Art & Wine Walk, walking tour, economic development, and promotional videos. 
  • June - After much coordination with membership and Oregon Main Street, the DDA produced its first long-range Strategic Plan covering the years 2017 to 2020.
  • August - The Great Eclipse event began on August 17th and the large party atmosphere surrounding the whole week was remarkable. The DDA was highly engaged with a major presence at the days-long street fair and with sales of lots of specialty items like piles and piles of T-shirts. With Emma's leadership, it also was the primary planner of the entire event that brought thousands of visitors to the community to include folks from at minimum 31 states and 21 counties including 15 astronomers from China plus people from places like Iceland and Romania. There was a giant street party on Main Street for 3 nights running and the weather was perfect for the day of the awesome Eclipse.
  • Fall - Norah Owings brought on Board for a second RARE participant (after Emma) to act as the DDA's Program Manager until the end of July 2018. Many events occurred such as the Murder Mystery and Holiday events, plus actions being taken to create an Arts Master Plan for the Community.


  • March - Beginning balance of $19,526 and 37 paid members. Diamonds in the Rough grant received for the renovation of North Dallas Forty, (Corby's Public House).
  • April - The DDA applied for and was approved to move up to the "Transforming Downtown" level with the Oregon Main Street program. This level requires a good deal more work on the part of the DDA (e.g., quarterly reports, staffing, etc.), but reaps a great many benefits including major consultation work and improved access to significant grants.
  • September - Murder Mystery, "Something Bad is Brewing". Gabe Leon brought on as the DDA's third RARE participant to pick up the Program Manager's job for the next 11 months.


  • Programs this year included the Art & Wine Walk, two Murder Mystery events, art in the windows, and major grants including an Oregon Main Street revitalization grant for $200,000 for the Latitude One building as a bike hostel. There was significant work on the Arts Master Plan.
  • May - After being closed and derelict for many years, with the help of a Diamonds in the Rough grant for an extensive restoration, the iconic Blue Garden Restaurant opens up and the classic Art Deco sign now lights up Main Street.
  • October - The restoration of Corby's, a project helped by the DDA, won the award for the Best Exterior Restoration for the entire state at the 2019 Oregon Main Street Annual Conference in Tillamook - a very high award.


  • January - February -  Membership reached a record high of 54 paid members and the ending fund balance reported in February was $29,981.
  • March - Arts Master Plan finished and adopted by the Board.
  • April - DDA hires new Executive Director, Melanie Fisher with assistance from the City of Dallas. This was a requirement to become part of the "Transforming Downtown" Level with Oregon Main Street. 
  • Early this year saw the first impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic which worsened as the year went on with business shutdowns and employee layoffs. DDA meetings became virtual through the Zoom and in-person meetings were almost completely abandoned. Attendance was down to a mere few and there was a loss of memberships, Officers of the Board, Board of Directors, and volunteers. 
  • Projects planned and worked on during the year included obtaining grants such as the Historic Theater Grant and Bike Hostel work, Downtown Saturday Market on the Courthouse Square, the Fall Festival, the Scarecrow Contest and work on the DDA logo, banners, and bylaws updates. 
  • In support of the businesses impacted by COVID-19, funds were raised and distributed plus much information on grants, loans, and operating guidance was collected by the DDA and passed on to members and others.
  •  Late Fall - Decorative lights, of good quality and professionally installed, went up on the building tops around the square. Added lights to the Court House Square Tree that was fundraised by the Dallas Area Visitor Center. 

2021 - Present

  • First Quarter - The DDA continues to adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Meetings continue to be virtual by Zoom and businesses continue to be impacted. Many projects are in the pipeline including finishing the Theater Grant work, façade grant work, planning for upcoming events such as Krazy Days parade, lighting the buildings, Art and Wine Walk, and so forth, though some may have to be curtailed or even canceled as State regulations dictate.

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