Downtown Sidney’s growth points toward making memories, embracing history


By Blythe Alspaugh - [email protected]



Sidney Alive Trustee and Sidney Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Lorenzo talks about the things he thinks about when he thinks of downtown Sidney. Lorenzo gave the opening speech at the Downtown Revitalization Update and Celebration held at the Historic Sidney Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Sidney Alive Trustee and Sidney Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Lorenzo talks about the things he thinks about when he thinks of downtown Sidney. Lorenzo gave the opening speech at the Downtown Revitalization Update and Celebration held at the Historic Sidney Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 25.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY — Area business owners and community leaders gathered in the updated Historic Sidney Theatre Tuesday evening to reflect on how downtown has grown, and see what the future holds for the city.

“I think what we take for granted is, the public spaces outside of where we sleep, that’s part of those moments that become memories for us, and then those memories become our personal stories,” Sidney Alive Executive Director Amy Breinich said.

Making downtown Sidney the perfect backdrop for forging memories and personal stories has been a driving force behind local businesses and leaders over the last several years. The growth of downtown has been a long-term investment for the community, by the community, and several speakers at the Downtown Revitalization Update and Celebration spoke on their personal investments into downtown Sidney.

Betsy O’Leary, owner of Moonflower Effect, recalled that her aromatherapy business grew because of a seed Breinich had planted when approaching her at a craft show, asking her if she had considered participating in the downtown farmer’s market on courtsquare.

“No way had I ever thought about doing the farmer’s market — you mean like, make this an actual business? No, that’s not gonna happen, nobody’s gonna buy my stuff,” O’Leary said. “She was like, ‘You really should just try it.’ That was in the fall, and that planted a seed.”

Over five years and through several phases, O’Leary went from craft shows to the farmer’s market, to having a table at Vintage Kitschy, to renting a space downtown and eventually moving Moonflower Effect to its currently location at 128 N. Main Ave., due to the business’ growth. As of today, Moonflower Effect offers essential oils, salt lamps, crystals, dry salt therapy, and classes on guided meditation, vision boards, candle making, aromatherapy and more are offered to anyone interested.

“It’s everything that I have ever wanted, and so much more, and absolutely none of this would have happened if Amy had not approached me at a craft show and said ‘Hey, do you think you can do this?’” O’Leary said.

The most meaningful part of the journey for O’Leary, who is a Sidney native and remembers going downtown often and visiting all the shops, is that she will now and forever be part of the history of downtown Sidney,

“One day, in 50 years, a group of friends is going to be sitting down having dinner, and they’re going to say ‘Hey, remember that cool shop downtown?’ I’m going to be a part of that. I am a part of Sidney’s history now, and that is the coolest thing ever,” O’Leary said.

In addition to many businesses finding their homes in downtown Sidney over the years, memorable fixtures such as the courthouse and the Historic Sidney Theatre have undergone renovation and restoration to breathe new life back into those spaces. For County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst, the courthouse is a centerpiece of Shelby County.

Where the Historic Sidney Theatre is concerned, the generosity of community and business donors allowed the theatre to kick-start updates during the pandemic. The walls are painted, concrete risers were installed thanks to Ferguson Construction, and the theatre now has rows and rows of seats for guests attending plays, concerts, recitals and more to sit back and enjoy the show. Additionally, the theatre is bringing back a popular feature from its past by showing first run movies. The first of the first run movies kicks off with Sing 2 on Tuesday, Feb. 1, with matinee and evening showings.

Looking toward the future of downtown Sidney, John Freytag of Freytag & Associates, Inc. spoke about upcoming updates to downtown Sidney, most notably bringing in archways marking historic downtown Sidney in order to unify downtown. For Freytag, it’s a reminder of Sidney’s history in coming into the city from the south side and driving under the arch.

“You came through that arch — it was the gateway to Sidney. It’s iconic, so that’s part of the idea of, ‘how can we use Sidney things?’ At that time, the city logo was the arch. It was on the police cruisers,” Freytag said.

The idea, Freytag said, was to put arches over the street to introduce downtown Sidney. The arches incorporating lighting and would be lit up at night to create a more active and safe environment downtown for visitors and citizens alike. Other enhancements to downtown include utilizing alleyways at specified hours for outdoor seating in the summertime.

“(We’ve) come downtown several times in the summer, and it’s fun. It’s exciting, there’s people. If we can do this, have the arches lit, have the alleyways lit, it becomes more of a destination for people,” Freytag said. “I’ve been very impressed and thankful for Sidney Focus. That group has been great as we went through this, step by step. We’ve had a lot of help to make sure that what you see are not just pretty pictures, but realistic and doable.”

Sidney Alive Trustee and Sidney Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Lorenzo talks about the things he thinks about when he thinks of downtown Sidney. Lorenzo gave the opening speech at the Downtown Revitalization Update and Celebration held at the Historic Sidney Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 25.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/01/web1_SDN012721DownTownTalk.jpgSidney Alive Trustee and Sidney Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Lorenzo talks about the things he thinks about when he thinks of downtown Sidney. Lorenzo gave the opening speech at the Downtown Revitalization Update and Celebration held at the Historic Sidney Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

By Blythe Alspaugh

[email protected]neydailynews.com

Reach the writer at [email protected]

Reach the writer at [email protected]