A riverboat cruise out of Hannibal, Mo.; a bluegrass band picking in a park in Danville, Ky.; a turreted 1898 Victorian near Nappanee, Ind., that just sold for $136,500--these are the warm enticements that draw suburbanites to small towns. But before such lures can work their magic, the towns must remake themselves into places where people want to live. To learn how, more than 1,200 communities since 1980 have turned to the National Main Street Center, a branch of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Best known for its work protecting landmarks, the trust also deserves credit for teaching local leaders...

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