Poplar Forest's visitors grow as historic houses struggle - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Poplar Forest's visitors grow as historic houses struggle

BEDFORD COUNTY, VA -

History can be fascinating, intriguing, or even moving.

But rarely will you hear it be described as fun.

Poplar Forest's Wayne Gannaway is that exception.

"History can be fun," said Gannaway, who serves as Poplar Forest's Director of Institutional Advancement. "In fact people come to historic sights when they're engaging and when they're fun and that's what we're trying to do."

Poplar Forest, which served as Thomas Jefferson's personal retreat, is finding new, unique ways to draw visitors.

Five years ago the historic house began hosting a fall wine festival. Organizers say it's growing in popularity.

Plus next month Poplar Forest will host its first ever craft beer tasting event.

Gannaway said it's all about connecting a new generation with history.

"Jefferson not only loved wine and had it imported but he also loved beer and he actually brewed it," Gannaway said. "He grew hops and he brewed it here on-site. So we're leveraging that historical fact."

So far it's working.

Poplar Forest has seen its number of visitors grow by around six percent in the last two years.

That number becomes more impressive when you see the drop off in attendance at historic houses as a whole.

The Washington Post reports the average attendance at historic houses is down 20 percent nationwide.

Gannaway said it's a sign Poplar Forest is doing something right.

But he adds that the goal is to keep finding new ways to connect with visitors.

"If you stand still like a lot of museums are finding the future is going to keep moving and you're going to get left behind," he said.

Friday, March 15 Poplar Forest will open for the season.

The beer tasting event will be held April 13, which is Jefferson's birthday.

For more information on the historic site and the beer tasting event click here.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • April Mugshots

    April Mugshots

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:42 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:42:32 GMT
    Thomas Allen WinstonThomas Allen Winston
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
  • 12-year-old accidentally kills little brother in Franklin Co.

    12-year-old accidentally kills little brother in Franklin Co.

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:24 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:24:35 GMT
    The Franklin County Sheriff's Office says a 12-year-old year boy accidentally killed his 7-year-old brother. Deputies received a 911 call about shots fired on Tuesday, April 21 stat 11:46 a.m.
    The Franklin County Sheriff's Office says a 12-year-old year boy accidentally killed his 7-year-old brother. Deputies received a 911 call about shots fired on Tuesday at 11:46 a.m.
  • Roanoke Mother stands up against bullying after son's suicide

    Roanoke Mother stands up against bullying after son's suicide

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:05 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:05:18 GMT
    A Roanoke County mother is standing up against bullying after her 16-year-old son committed suicide. Maxx Poff was found dead on February 20th from a gunshot wound. "Maxx was a lover. He wasn't a fighter and it just kills me to know the pain he was going through for somebody bullying him," Maxx's mother Dianna Poff says. Roanoke County Assistant Police Chief Chuck Mason says detectives heard information was being circulated through social media that suggested bullying was the mean reason fo...
    A Roanoke County mother is standing up against bullying after her 16-year-old son committed suicide. Maxx Poff was found dead on February 20th from a gunshot wound. "Maxx was a lover. He wasn't a fighter and it just kills me to know the pain he was going through for somebody bullying him," Maxx's mother Dianna Poff says. Roanoke County Assistant Police Chief Chuck Mason says detectives heard information was being circulated through social media that suggested bullying was the mean reason fo...
  • 29 Virginia High Schools on Personal Finance Top-100 List

    29 Virginia High Schools on Personal Finance Top-100 List

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:32 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:32:06 GMT
    29 schools in the Commonwealth, including many in our area, ranked the the nation's top 100 best high schools for personal finance instruction.
    29 schools in the Commonwealth, including many in our area, ranked the the nation's top 100 best high schools for personal finance instruction.
  • Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:50 AM EDT2014-04-22 14:50:58 GMT
    Deputies were called to Double Oaks Lane in the Burnt Chimney community, where they found a seven-year-old boy with a gunshot wound.
    Deputies were called to Double Oaks Lane in the Burnt Chimney community, where they found a seven-year-old boy with a gunshot wound.
  • Roanoke Police release pictures of suspects in armed robbery

    Roanoke Police release pictures of suspects in armed robbery

    Monday, April 21 2014 4:23 PM EDT2014-04-21 20:23:34 GMT
    Roanoke City Police continue to investigate the armed robbery that took place at Check into Cash on Valley View Boulevard last Tuesday, April 15th.
    Roanoke City Police continue to investigate the armed robbery that took place at Check into Cash on Valley View Boulevard last Tuesday, April 15th.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.