Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Thomas L. Bell

Committee Members

Leonard W. Brinkman Jr., Charles S. Aiken, Charles L Cleland


This study examines factors contributing to the active or inactive status of MainStreet communities in Kentucky. Data were gathered on 37 Main Street communities from 1979-1997. A logistic regression analysis revealed that three variables—downtown business vacancy rates, whether or not the town was within the sphere of influence of a metropolitan area, and the composition of the Main Street board leadership-were the most important predictors of on-going Main Street activity (i.e., success of the programs). Field observation revealed that many of the communities identified by the KHC as inactive towns (i.e., failures according to their criteria), were often thriving urban places. It was determined that because of their more rural locations, these inactive communities were better able than their active counterparts to manifest the "tyranny of space" (i.e., the potential to gain excessive entrepreneurial profits) that Losch's version of central place theory struggled so hard to eliminate. These more isolated small municipalities were successful in sustaining economic revitalization efforts because they were not in direct competition with larger urban areas. As such, these communities often did not adhere faithfully to the Main Street "Four Point Approach," which was the Kentucky Main Street's office primary criterion for success. It was further surmised that the leadership and the collective action approach of Main Street participants differed in the active and inactive communities, which could additionally explain the active status in these municipalities.

KEY WORDS; Historic preservation, Kentucky Main Street Program, Central place theory. Collective action theory.

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