Sherman’s Courthouse Square has a lot going for it, from numerous businesses big and a small to an expanding portfolio of dining options. But one thing it doesn’t have in abundance is color. The 78-year-old courthouse is a drab gray and most of the surrounding buildings are plain white or dreary brown.

Sherman’s Courthouse Square has a lot going for it, from numerous businesses big and a small to an expanding portfolio of dining options. But one thing it doesn’t have in abundance is color. The 78-year-old courthouse is a drab gray and most of the surrounding buildings are plain white or dreary brown.


It’s a palette problem that sticks in the craw of Sherman Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Executive Director Karen Tooley, and it’s an issue that city leaders intend to rectify.


Public works crews from the city worked Friday to hang a handful of banners purchased by DSP&R, advertising the inaugural Red River Mardi Gras and Jazz Festival, which will overtake the square on Feb. 22. After that, the city will rotate seasonal banners promoting its waxing slate of activities.


"(DSP&R Board Member) Jared Tredway and I have been talking for six months about adding color to downtown and what we could do," said Tooley Friday, shortly after handing the banners over to town workers. "I approached the city … about what would be involved with us hanging banners. And the city has done this fabulous thing; they’ve decided to work right with us and give us the manpower to hang banners downtown for these festivals."


The banner rotation will feature four events this year, with the possibility of further expansion as the city adds to its cultural calendar.


"When the Mardi Gras ones come down, we’re putting up banners for Shakespeare in the Grove, and that’s going to be wonderful," said Tooley. "When Shakespeare comes down, we’ll put up a banner for our wine stroll, which is called Stroll on the Square, and this will be our third one. Then finally, the city will put up the Christmas banners. It’s such a wonderful thing that they’re going to focus on these festivals."


The banners will play a small role in larger efforts by local leaders to draw people into Sherman, but it’s a vital part of the city’s branding, explained Tooley.


"The festivals are two-fold; it’s to make everything active and vibrant downtown, but it also helps bring people to hotels; it’s going to bring business to our entrepreneurs downtown. People want something to do in the evenings — they want something alive downtown — and I think the city wants to see that happen. It’s just pivotal that downtown looks fresh and vibrant."


Citing local business recruitment of new employees as a prime example of how downtown success trickles to the rest of the town, Tooley stressed that the benefits of her group’s efforts aren’t geographically isolated.


"It helps build industry. It helps get good people here who are willing to locate to Sherman who want a small town feel but with these connections," said Tooley. "Downtown is not just another neighborhood; it’s way more than that. Downtown is owned by all of us. It’s all of ours, it’s our downtown, it doesn’t matter if you live anywhere else in Sherman. Everybody has an ownership and everybody wants it to succeed. And I think that’s in our favor."


Tooley laughed as she drew the line of questioning back to the banners.


"And besides, there’s going to be color around the square from now on, and I think it’s just exciting."