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Aberdeen Celebrates 175 years, Main Street Octagenarian

Glen Houston wears many hats. Most days you will see her in a wide-brimmed hat walking the streets of downtown Aberdeen, Miss. “Ms. Glen” walks from store to store to work with the merchants or whatever the need is for the day.

Besides wearing her “Main Street hat”, Houston has also worn the hats of nurse, gardener, preservationist, developer, wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Born in 1926 in Aberdeen, Houston is 87 years young and has accomplished many “firsts,” including being the first school nurse in Mississippi where she worked for many years in the Aberdeen School District.

She was also a founding member and the first (and only) director of Aberdeen Main Street.

Beginning in 1991, Houston worked tirelessly with some of the key merchants in downtown to establish Aberdeen Main Street. She worked out of her kitchen until funds were available for a salary.

“Everyone was so excited to charter a bus to Jackson (Miss.) to the Capital steps to receive the Main Street designation in 1993,” said Kathy Lusby, Director of Chamber Affairs in Aberdeen.

Having directed Aberdeen Main Street since its inception, Houston has many accomplishments under her belt.

“She is always seen walking the streets, and this is one of the reasons that our downtown is so vibrant and alive today,” Lusby said.

Houston is most proud of the downtown being placed on the National Register and working with Save Aberdeen Landmarks (supported by donations from the community) to save the Kimmel building, which houses three upper-floor apartments, a bakery (formerly Kimmel Bakery), and a beauty shop.

Houston said there are now only five vacant buildings in downtown, with one building in the Save Aberdeen Landmarks program. Downtown Aberdeen also features 14 upper-floor residences.

Houston not only works on Main Street; she also lives on Main Street. Houston’s home is on the corner of Hickory and Commerce streets, and she has always treated downtown as if it were hers.

“Main Street is my front yard,” she said.

Even though it might not be her responsibility to keep the grass mowed next to the downtown buildings or make sure all the planters have water or filled with plants each season, she always makes sure that it is done and the town shines like a new penny.

Houston has been an active member of the Aberdeen Garden Club for many years, working tirelessly on projects to beautify Aberdeen. She has planted many trees and worked with the city workers to make sure that they are trimmed properly each spring.

Whether she is selling Chamber banquet tickets, Garden Club luncheon tickets or Lions Club barbeque tickets, she knows how to get everyone to work together to have a successful town.

Much of Aberdeen’s success today is due to the tireless efforts of Houston. The Monroe County Chamber of Commerce recognized her with the Community Focus Award in 2012.

“I could not have done my job without the garden clubs; they have been instrumental in our design and beautification committee,” Houston said. “I owe my success to all the people who have been involved all these years and who care about Aberdeen.”

Houston admits the job of Main Street director is not always easy, and she has to work around different situations that sometimes hinder the progress of downtown.

The passionate people, who have the same concern for downtown as she, make up for it though.

“I was school nurse for years so I know everyone and they are all grown now,” Houston said. “I know everybody and what they have to offer and that helps me with getting the job done.”

In the almost 20 years that Aberdeen has been a Main Street community, Houston has established two new parking lots and renovated two buildings that were donated to Aberdeen Main Street. Both are now rented and generate income for the Main Street program.

She was also instrumental in raising funds to have a sound system installed so that music plays daily in downtown, adding to the atmosphere.

Houston was instrumental in working with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to become a Certified Local Government and place downtown Aberdeen on the National Register. She has also served on the Economic Development Advisory Council for the state of Mississippi.

Due to her dedication, the Mississippi Main Street Association has recognized Aberdeen Main Street for its accomplishments, and many new managers have been sent to Houston for training.

When asked what makes a good Main Street manager, she replied, “Concern and working with your retail merchants. You have to have something to do when you get up in the morning and feel a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small, everyday.”

“That’s why I do what I do. It is never ending.”

Photo: Houston with Mardi Gras beads for Mardi Gras on Main, celebrating Aberdeen’s 175th Anniversary

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Mississippi Main Street Association
P.O. Box 55747 | Jackson, MS 39296
Phone: 601/944-0113
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
District Offices:
P.O. Box 445 | Columbus, MS 39703 | 662- 364-0435
426 Northpointe Lake Dr. | Oxford, MS 38655 | 601-941-5409
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Mississippi Main Street is a program of the National Main Street
Center and the Mississippi Development Authority