For twenty years, almost my entire life, Charles Humphreys has been a fixture on Point Pleasant’s Main Street. A constant friend, supporter of businesses big and small, and a big dreamer, Main Street’s success over the last two decades is due in no small part to Charles’ vision and leadership.
He is originally from Guyandotte but moved to Mason County’s Bend Area just after finishing high school, and he has many fond memories of Pomeroy, Middleport, Mason, New Haven, and Hartford from that time. He got his start here, in the furniture business, before moving to Columbus and then Lexington, where he worked in international relations at the University of Kentucky.
Then an unexpected opportunity brought him home. His brother Dale called him and said there was a job here that would be perfect for him, Executive Director of Main Street Point Pleasant. It didn’t pay much, and downtown was in rough shape, and grant money at that time was hard to come by, and… Well, none of that sounded good, but it was both a curse and a blessing. Charles often says that what convinced him was Dale telling him, “you do anything at all and you’ll be miles ahead of everyone else.”
Dale put Charles in touch with Sandy Dunn, president of Main Street’s Board, and the rest is history. After half a dozen directors in ten years, Charles was just what Main Street needed. He is one of those rare people who has truly never met a stranger, he could (and still can) talk your money right out of your wallet, and he brought a vision and guiding hand to Point Pleasant. Where others saw only run-down buildings ready for a bulldozer, he saw a new Williamsburg, an Appalachian tourist destination without rival.
The Point Pleasant Riverfront Park, Hartley Square, Mothman Statue, million-dollar series of historic murals… Together, these represent almost a $10,000,000 investment in Point Pleasant. All were completed and installed on his watch, much to the benefit of our local tourism industry. Many buildings downtown have also been repaired and repainted and had awnings installed through funds Charles brought to Point Pleasant.
For Main Street (the organization), he started the Krodel Christmas Fantasy Light Show, providing another source of income to help fund our mission and projects downtown, and he recruited corporate sponsors large and small. He worked with four different governors, dozens of state and federal officials and legislators, and most of the local officials over the last twenty years to get projects approved and underway. Through thick and thin, through the heady days of building the Riverfront Park and the depths of the Great Recession, he kept the doors open and the organization growing.
But the most important thing Charles brought to Point Pleasant was simple, a positive attitude. His love for the community, his drive to make our community the best it can be, his fervent belief that we can be everything Williamsburg and Lewisburg and Shepherdstown are and more, telling anyone and everyone that Point Pleasant is hitting its stride… Attitudes toward our downtown have changed for the better over the last two decades, and I think we can point to Charles for quite a bit of that.
But now, after twenty years, Mr. Main Street is retiring, and we want to thank him for all of the years he has dedicated to making our town a better place to live. So this coming Thursday, come out to the Riverfront Park pavilion any time from 2-6, get a cupcake, hang out and share stories, and wish him a happy retirement!
(We planned for it being outdoors and four hours so that people can come and go as they please, to avoid having everyone there at once and minimize any COVID risk.)
Not to worry, though, Charles will still be around. He figures he’ll probably spend more time visiting kids and grandkids in Alabama and Florida, but he plans to keep his home here with the rest of his family. And I’m sure, whether on a nice sunny day or during the Mothman Festival, we’ll still be seeing Mr. Main Street around town.
Chris Rizer is the president of the Mason County Historical & Preservation Society and assistant director of Main Street Point Pleasant, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.