It’s a bright, summer day in circa-1970s Denton, Texas. A couple of young teens are riding bicycles past the Denton Record-Chronicle heading west on Hickory Street, up the hill and toward the square. Two cars motor slowly east in their direction. A couple of pick-ups are parallel-parked on the side. Otherwise, the kids have the road to themselves.
This was a moment captured on film from a virtually-deserted Hickory Street looking toward an equally barren downtown square 40 years ago, before the City of Denton decided in 1989 to appoint a Downtown Development Advisory Board. Before the City funded a new Main Street Program in 1990. Before Julie Glover got to town.
“When Joanne and I bought it, it was the worst looking building on the Courthouse Square,” recalls Bob Moses of the investment he and his wife made in downtown Denton. Besides needing a lot of work, the building was a registered historic landmark. “It was a minefield of special requirements and building codes. Julie guided us through the process and has been part of everything downtown that’s followed since.” Bob and Joanne’s piece of the square became Elements of Design and Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream. Joanne and Elements have since retired, but Beth Marie’s is still a must-do Denton experience.
She with her sax and he with his guitar, Texas-born musicians Julie and her husband Jeff Glover arrived on the Denton scene in 1982. They knew right away that Denton fit them. Quickly evident was that the reverse was just as true: Julie and Jeff fit Denton.
Dan Mojica is inspired by empty storefronts. “The skewed mix of rural/urban/agricultural decay exuded a warmth I thought could be a draw to artists and the bohemian community in general,” he said about his fascination with Industrial Street more than a decade ago. People thought he was nuts to look at the old boarded-up Wolff Grocery and somehow in his mind’s eye be seeing a music venue called Dan’s Silver Leaf that would make a significant, regional impact. But the rent was cheap, plus he had Julie at his side, encouraging and running interference through the labyrinth of permits, code requirements and build-out. “She saw the vision herself. I'm convinced of that,” Dan said.
Locust Street Grill (now Hooligans) was the hottest dining ticket downtown under Julie’s management which began in 1984. She joined every effort focused on bringing people downtown, bolstering business for the Grill and their neighbors. Over the next 10 years, her downtown leadership role expanded while she managed the Grill, simultaneously earning her Bachelor’s and then MBA from Texas Woman’s University. It was a natural turn of events and no surprise to anyone when the Main Street effort finally found its feet in 1994 and selected Julie as the first paid staff person dedicated to developing and marketing downtown Denton.
That was nearly 22 years ago. Those first visionaries like Bob Moses and Dan Mojica believed in Julie’s dream of a downtown brimming with business, vibrant and bustling. Their investments encouraged more dreamers whose successful investments attracted people to rediscover downtown, thus attracting more dreamers who invested, and so on.
After taking on Main Street full-time, Julie created occasions to coax crowds into downtown. Her handprint is on signature events like the Saturday morning Acoustic Lawn Jams, the 10-week long spring Twilight Tunes series, and festivals like Dog Days of Denton. Most recently, she headed development of the Denton Walk of Fame that was just unveiled last weekend. Denton has come a long way on Julie Glover’s watch.
Now for the news: On Thursday this past week, November 5, our Julie Glover, Downtown Development Coordinator for the City of Denton Economic Development Department, was awarded the Susan H. Campbell Award for Professional Excellence by the Texas Downtown Association (TDA). It is the Texas Downtown Association's most esteemed individual honor reserved for, “A person who has displayed outstanding professionalism, achievement and support of the Texas downtown community.” (texasdowntown.org)
I challenge you to go stand on Hickory Street in front of the Denton Record Chronicle and look west, up the hill and toward the square. The image is not the same as that 1970s snapshot. Throngs now roam the sidewalks enjoying celebrated local restaurants, 25-plus music venues, shops, galleries and museums. Denton’s transformation in two decades is incredible. Ask anyone in town, and they’ll tell you about the lady with a contagious dream and the tenacity to build it. They’ll tell you about Julie Glover and how lucky Denton is that she and Jeff decided to plant their lives here 33 years ago.
I am honored to call her friend and blessed to be her partner-in-passion for Denton, Texas. Congratulations, Julie Glover!