"To anyone who's been around long enough to remember downtown Wilmington from the late '60s, it's difficult to imagine a once-thriving 'main street' area, heart of the largest city in the state at one time, reduced to such a ghost town as Wilmington was. Much of the commercial activity had fled to the 'burbs, and the now-fashionable historic district didn't exist. It was just a bunch of old run-down houses, at least one of which was reputed to be of ill repute. It was a foresighted, some say 'brave,' Katherine Howell, head librarian at the time, who bought one of the relics and fixed it up and actually lived in it.
It was about that time that DARE, the Downtown Area Revitalization Effort, was conceived. Not given much hope at the time, DARE set to work, and before long there were results, meager at first, but progress. Downtown Wilmington is so toney now, it is a high rent district, both commercial and residential.