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.
  • Update: Roanoke police investigating shooting in Schewels parking lot

    UPDATE: Roanoke police investigating shooting in Schewels parking lot

    UPDATE: Roanoke police investigating shooting in Schewels parking lot

    Thursday, April 24 2014 4:19 PM EDT2014-04-24 20:19:31 GMT
     Roanoke Police are investigating after a man was shot in the Schewels parking lot on the 3600 block of Ferncliff Avenue. Police says it does not appear to be a random act. One man was shot and taken to the hospital.
     Roanoke Police are investigating after a man was shot in the Schewels parking lot on the 3600 block of Ferncliff Avenue. Police says it does not appear to be a random act. One man was shot and taken to the hospital.
  • March Mugshots

    March Mugshots

    Monday, April 7 2014 12:49 PM EDT2014-04-07 16:49:38 GMT
    Michelle Marie Bussiere was arrested last week and charged with identity theft, forgery, theft under $500, among other charges.  (Source: Sullivan County Sheriff's Office)Michelle Marie Bussiere was arrested last week and charged with identity theft, forgery, theft under $500, among other charges. (Source: Sullivan County Sheriff's Office)
    This photo gallery features mugshots of individuals arrested in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. 
    This photo gallery features mugshots of individuals arrested in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. 
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.