Oil Region National Heritage Area | The Valley that Changed the World

Oil City Main Street Program

The Oil City Main Street Program (OCMS)

The Oil City Main Street Program (OCMS) is a community-driven initiative dedicated to the revitalization of Oil City’s central business district. The Oil Region Alliance houses OCMS and serves as its fiscal agent. Since the Oil City Main Street Program (OCMS) formally began operations in fall 2011, it has worked to make downtown Oil City attractive and vibrant by following the Main Street Approach, a comprehensive strategy that has transformed numerous older downtown business districts across the United States.

OCMS has been nationally accredited by Main Street America each year since 2012; and has been newly re-designated as a Keystone Main Street by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in 2019. The Oil City Main Street Program has achieved three Townie Awards from Pennsylvania Downtown Center in 2017, 2018, and 2019; and has been named one of PDC’s Top Performing Programs of 2016 and 2018. Since fall 2011 through December 2019, over $14.4 million has been reinvested into downtown Oil City via building improvements, new construction, volunteer hours, new businesses, job growth and more.

Key initiatives of OCMS

  • Façade Improvement Grant Program
  • “Best Dressed Windows” contest
  • Oil City Design Guide
  • Downtown Murals Program
  • The Center Street Bridge Illumination Project
  • Seasonal plantings
  • Adopt-A-Block and cleanup projects
  • “Oil City Uncorked” Wine Walks
  • The Oil City Curb Market
  • Music on the Square
  • BridgeFest (in conjunction with the Oil City Arts Council)
  • Oil City’s Christmas Past and the Jingle Bell 5K
  • Business Resource Guide
  • Educational & business workshops
  • Promotion of available downtown space
  • And more!

Download the complete Oil City Design Guide here.

Oil City Main Street Design Guide

Oil City Design Guide

The Oil City Design Guide is a project of the Oil City Main Street Program. It serves as a resource to property owners, tenants, local government officials, community organizations, design professionals, contractors, and tradespeople to promote and ensure the integrity of Oil City’s historic districts and buildings now and into the future.

Design Guide goals include:

  • Demonstrating important architectural and design features of older and historic buildings
  • Providing seasonal and long-term maintenance recommendations
  • Encouraging good stewardship of historic buildings
  • Enhancing the cohesion of the three historic districts in Oil City
  • Attracting new residents and economic investment by improving and maintaining Oil City’s historic identity

The OCMS Program spearheaded the Design Guide project. A steering committee composed of residents and business owners from the three historic districts, local elected officials, and community organizations oversaw the Oil City Design Guide process and development. The steering committee worked with the consultant team, citySTUDIO and T&B Planning, regularly during the process to provide feedback and suggestions.

Public input was provided via an online survey in Summer 2021. Feedback on the second draft was supplied during a public meeting in Spring 2023. Comments on the final draft were provided in Summer 2023 during a second public meeting and the final version of the Oil City Design Guide was shared during a virtual meeting.

The steering committee wishes to recognize the efforts of the late Kathy Bailey, Oil City Main Street Program Manager (2011-2023). Her hard work and dedication to the Program greatly benefited the Oil City community.

The Oil City Design Guide is being funded by a Keystone Historic Preservation Project Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, with additional funding from the National Park Service via the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism, the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Northwest Charitable Foundation, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Henry B. Suhr, Jr., and Take Pride in Oil City.

Download the document Oil City Main Street Design Guide.

ARTS Oil City

In 2006, prior to the creation of the Oil City Main Street Program, the City of Oil City launched ARTS Oil City, a program to market the town’s low cost of living to working artists. Since its inception, over 45 artists have relocated to Oil City, many of whom have purchased and renovated homes and opened studios or sometimes commercial spaces. In 2017, upon the retirement of its coordinator, ARTS Oil City was placed under the charge of the Oil City Main Street Program. Together, these two revitalization initiatives reinforce Oil City’s position as a growing artist community with a downtown that is reinventing itself for future generations to come.

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