By David Helms/Pontotoc Progress
PONTOTOC – In the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams,” actor Kevin Costner plows up his corn field and builds a baseball field after hearing a voice that tells him “if you build it, he will come.”
Businesses and residents are hoping to write a similar script for downtown Pontotoc, “if you revitalize it, they will come back.”
One of those who has heard the call to invest in downtown Pontotoc is lifelong resident Shane Crausby, a commercial and industrial real estate adviser.
“For years everybody’s been talking about needing things to come into downtown Pontotoc, but talk’s all you heard, no one was doing anything,” said Crausby.
So two years ago, Crausby finished renovating the old Texaco gas station on the corner of Main and North Liberty streets into a stylish one-bedroom townhouse, which is home to him and his wife, Kim.
Crausby said he was hoping the townhouse project would spur more activity downtown.
“By seeing you can turn an old gas station into a nice townhouse, I was hoping people would take a look at some of these other old buildings and fix them up, too,” said Crausby.
Crausby continues to put “his money where his mouth is,” having purchased three downtown buildings in the past two years.
“I feel like downtown Pontotoc is a worthwhile investment,” he said. “With Toyota, the Highway 6 and Highway 9 four-lanes, the future four-laning of Highway 15, down the road our community is going to grow.”
Crausby said it’s important that downtown Pontotoc always remain the heart of the community.
“The better and more thriving our downtown is, the more businesses and industry will be attracted to us because they see the people here care about the heart of their community,” he said.
Another resident who’s banking on the rejuvenation of downtown is Nancy Maxey, who moved here 19 years ago.
In February, Maxey opened Take A Load Off (T.A.L.O.), a combination lunch cafe and catering business located on Lafayette Street.
Maxey’s new business is located right across the street from the site of the new Off the Square Market, which will soon be under construction.
The Off the Square Market will serve as a covered venue for a farmer’s market and community activities and fundraising events.
“I think the new market will bring lots of folks downtown and that’s why I opened my business right here,” said Maxey. “In the history of farmer’s markets, all the businesses around them have thrived.”
Main Street downtown also is home to another new restaurant, The Kitchen Table, which was opened in February by Bo Van Nostrand and his wife, Jodie.
It was the community, not a business opportunity, that first attracted the Nostrand family to Pontotoc.
“We actually moved to Pontotoc from Tupelo because of the schools over here,” said Nostrand, who has worked in the restaurant business for more than 28 years. “Jodie and I had always wanted to open our own restaurant and this was a good fit.”
The logo of The Kitchen Table restaurant reads “Where Family Comes Together.”
“The idea behind the restaurant was for us to invite Pontotoc to our kitchen table and it seems like it’s been just the reverse,” Nostrand said. “Pontotoc has opened its arms to us and it’s been very good.”
Pontotoc County Chamber/Main Street Director Ellen Russell said residents are proud of the city’s tagline, “Where Family comes First and we Love every second.”
“We want Pontotoc to be a place where everyone would love to raise a family,” Russell said. “Revitalized downtowns are a symbol of community caring and a high quality of life, factors that help influence business and families to locate here.”
The city of Pontotoc is the county seat of Pontotoc County, and both the Pontotoc County Courthouse and Pontotoc City Hall are located on Main Street. The historic Pontotoc Court Square is centered in the middle of downtown Pontotoc, as well as the Town Square Post Office and Museum.
“The court square is a special green area that’s a gathering spot for flea markets, cookouts, lunch, or just sitting around enjoying the sunshine,” Russell said.
The Pontotoc Court Square also hosts the annual Customer Appreciation Day, Rebel-Bulldog Cook Off, Relay for Life and Bodock Festival.