Tenino Looks for Limelight as HGTV Opens Submissions for Small Town Renovation Show


HGTV’s “Home Town Takeover” is looking nationwide for small towns that need some sprucing’ up. 

Tenino might just be its next project. 

Earlier this year, Tenino submitted an application and made its pitch to the HGTV spinoff series on why the show should come to the small Thurston County city and remodel some of its most historic buildings. 

On the Facebook page “Tenino on HGTV’s Home Town,” residents uploaded a video on Feb. 10 with their pitch for why their town is the one to pick. In the video, many notable faces — such as those of master stone carver Keith Phillips and Mayor Wayne Fournier — make an appearance, giving their own pitch as to why the Stone City deserves the limelight. 

In the week since its posting, the video, professionally produced by Flow State Creatives, has collected more than 18,000 views and more than 500 shares. 

Fournier believes the video’s focus on the historic Tenino sandstone was a good move by him and his 16-person ad hoc group of community members. 

“I think we were made for this,” he said. “Every city has its story and unique buildings, but the culture and story of this town is so intertwined with the architecture that it’ll be hard not to gain the attention of the producers.” 

And while he has confidence, Fournier admits he knows there are potentially hundreds of other cities competing for this opportunity. 

Tenino is already known regionally as an event destination. If the city were to be featured in this show, it would add a whole new level of potential for the city, supporters say. 

“Going to Tenino is an easy choice and it’s interesting … If you can capture that, it’s a huge economic boom for Tenino,” Fournier said. 

If Tenino is chosen, Fournier said he hopes the show will add some much-needed color to the city. In their application video, residents contrasted the historical aspects of Tenino’s sandstone with the notion that the gray colors that line Sussex Avenue can seem as drab as the winter weather. 

Fournier hopes the show will install colorful awnings, paint wood linings and add some color to the area, in addition to the work they’ll do on a half-dozen historic buildings that need revitalization. 

Tyler Whitworth, former president of the Tenino Area Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the opportunity is promising. Whitworth is also a part of the small group of residents and business owners leading the efforts. 

”What we’re really looking to do is ultimately use this opportunity to bring good exposure to Tenino,” Whitworth said. “It would be a good way to preserve our history while improving our downtown corridor.”

The new series is a spin-off from HGTV’s “Home Town,” where husband-and-wife team Ben and Erin Napier restore southern homes. 

Of course, Tenino likely has some tough competition. Searches for submissions on Youtube bring up other charming towns — including Dallas, Oregon; Jacksonville, Illinois; and Nenana, Alaska — all competing to be featured on national television. 

The six-episode special program is set to air sometime in 2021. 

Cheryl Pearce, owner of Sandstone Cafe located just off State Route 507 on Sussex Avenue, said she thinks the opportunity is exciting. 

“Tenino’s been really working in the last several years pretty aggressively on making improvements on the town and making it business friendly. I feel like we’re already on the path to a healthier environment,” said Pearce, who has done business in the community for more than a decade now. 

Pearce is also part of the group that’s leading the charge. While she said she couldn’t pick one building she hopes is given a second life, she’s hoping that if the town is chosen they’ll do some improvements on the Tenino mini mall, which is where her business operates out of. 

She said many businesses have had difficulties establishing an identity and customer base in that location. She added that she wants people to know that there are more businesses there aside from her own cafe. 

“It would be really cool to have a second set of eyes come in and see our town differently,” Pearce said, “to just create a more cohesive downtown while still maintaining our historical area.” 

To view the video, visit www.facebook.com/stonetowntakeover/.