During the annual awards ceremony of the Georgia Downtown Conference, the Georgia Downtown Association recognized the City of Dallas with an Award of Excellence in the Organization category of Main Street Hero for Mrs. Helene Jones.
If you ask the locals how they would describe Downtown Dallas before 2018, you would hear words similar to boring, dead and empty. When Helene Jones purchased 222 Main Street in 2017, she invested one million dollars in transforming the interior and exterior of the building and opening a quaint gift shop and year-round Christmas store known as Tin Bucket Mercantile. This major investment was a turning point for Downtown Dallas.
Helene’s investments didn’t stop with Tin Bucket Mercantile. In 2021, she purchased 223 Main Street. This building was utilized as an overstocked antique shop, an office supply store, and a real estate office. Helene saw potential in this building and spent another one million dollars on improvements of the building emphasizing the historical architecture by exposing the original brick walls and refinishing the hardwood floors. She divided one street-level space into two spaces. Walls were removed on the third story, opening the space and exposing the beautiful windows that overlook Main Street. Each unit received new plumbing and electrical. Overall, 223 Main Street gave life to a total of four new businesses – two destination retail stores, one photography studio that also serves as a space for small meetings and intimate gatherings, and a coffee house that has been the talk of the town with their tasty coffee and beautiful aesthetic environment. Because of Helene’s vision and investment in this building, fifteen jobs were created in downtown, and a new life was sparked from this building alone.
Downtown Dallas is the backdrop for multiple television shows and movies. In fact, Star Girl returned for multiples seasons. Star Girl used the exterior wall of 223 Main Street for a mural needed in the series. As part of the agreement, Helene requested the television station, CW repaint the wall with a mural her family designed. This mural became iconic in Dallas.
The mural was planned by Victoria and Michael Pace, Helene’s grandchildren, and designed by Victoria. The mural has a vintage postcard look and incorporates many areas of the city and surrounding area including the historic courthouse, High Shoals Waterfall, a train inspired by the railroad that runs through town, the famous Silver Comet Trail that runs through the city, and the Cooper Building known locally as the “Deer Head” building. The artist incorporated a small mural inside a retail shop as the trim of the mural. What was once a backdrop location in a tv show is now the backdrop of so many locals’ wedding, engagement, and prom photos.
Without a good restaurant-retail ratio, Downtown Dallas still had its challenges. Merchants looked for ways to bring additional foot traffic to downtown. Helene sponsored an event that brought thousands of people to Downtown Dallas with the event Christmas in July. Santa Claus makes an appearance every year. The summer scene is set with flamingos and umbrellas all over the courtyard. This event was the first merchant-led event that brought all businesses on Main Street together.
The City of Dallas will forever be thankful for Helene Jones and the vision she had for 222 and 223 Main Street and the potential she brought to life in Downtown Dallas.
About the Georgia Downtown Association: The Georgia Downtown Association is a non-profit statewide organization that connects communities and professionals that are committed to downtown vitality. GDA provides accredited training programs for downtown development professionals, advocates for Georgia's downtowns, and educates private and public sectors on the economic benefits of a thriving downtown. GDA also hosts the annual Georgia Downtown Conference to offer top notch educational training and networking opportunities.