In 2005, Ardmore was embroiled in an eminent domain controversy in the heart of the historic business district, with nearly as many different opinions as there were people. But Sherry Tillman envisioned a different Ardmore, with an arts crawl similar to Old City's long established First Friday.
"Having lived on the Main Line for 20 years at that point," Tillman said, "I found that it was culturally deprived, and that if you were an artist there were very few places to be seen or heard. The goal was to connect the artists and the community together."
In 2006, First Friday Main Line was born, and Tillman - an Ardmore merchant and resident who owns the crafts boutique Past*Present*Future - built connections with Ardmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr.
For the first few years First Friday Main Line moved people from event to event via old-fashioned trolleys. But when the economy took a turn for the worse, they could no longer afford them.
"We are a beg-a-thon relying on business and personal donations," Tillman said.
First Friday Main Line, unlike some other local arts organizaiton, has no substantive underwriting, yes all events other than the winter "friend-raiser" are free.
First Friday Main Line is held monthly - except on national holidays - with art and music in the stores, cafes and on the street. During warm weather months, people getting off Paoli-Thorndale SEPTA trains are greeted with music and dancing in the streets.
Tillman and First Friday Main Line were also the recipients of a United States Congressional Commendation in 2010 for initiating Operation Angel Wings which sent clothes and toys to children in war-torn Afghanistan.
First Friday Main Line introduces people to art and music in everyday life, the merchants of Ardmore, and emerging artists and performers.
"It's a fabulous chance to experience locally based art and music and a chance to get to know the small businesses in your community," said Janet Gardner Long, a North Ardmore resident who runs Ardmore's Clover Market.
"I love that First Friday gives local talent a venue to perform and/or showcase their work," said Lynn Brandsma, of Ardmore. "The fact that my family and I can walk to the shops is a huge plus for us."
Melanie McLaughlin-Doran of Gladwyne appreciates the "culture and camaraderie. First Friday combines art, music, food and neighbors creating a fun, unique night out for all."
The next First Friday Main Line is this week, with a theme of Catch a Shooting Star, and it is First Friday Main Line's signature photography event.
The evening will feature art in group shows throughout Ardmore, live music on the Cricket Avenue Stage and tucked around Ardmore's Main Street Business District.