Danville visitors center moving to Goldsmith House

Published 5:29 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2019


The McDowell House Museum and Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau are forming a partnership at Constitution Square Historic Site. The CVB will be moving its visitors welcome center from Grayson’s Tavern to the Goldsmith House at the corner of Walnut and Second Streets, and it will help McDowell House with the expansion of merchandise and operation of the gift shop there. And McDowell House will include guided tours of the park once a week as a part of its tours through the museum.

“We kind of just started talking and realized we complimented each other and that’s great. But we would be stronger together,” said CVB assistant director Jamee Peyton, during the CVB board meeting on Monday.

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“Together we’ll manage things and work absolutely in partnership,” Peyton said.

Chairperson of the McDowell House Museum Inc. Janet Hamner said they are looking forward to working together with the CVB at Constitution Square Park, especially during the upcoming farmers markets and expansion of gift shop merchandise, including local artwork and Danville-branded retail items.

“One of the impetuses for us is to show that we women can work together, get along together, and move forward together,” Hamner said, referring to the women who are making the partnership plans.

“This really needs to be treated all as one attraction. So McDowell House, Grayson’s Tavern, the gift shop, the cabins — it’s an experience when you package it all together,” said CVB Executive Director Jennifer Kirchner. “Not working together seems silly. We can realize a lot of efficiencies and solves a lot of our problems.”

Kirchner said, “McDowell House is the indoor museum with the docents and the valuable things. When you come to the park, it’s an outdoor museum of sorts, so it should have signage, not artifacts.” She wants to “strip down” the interiors of the cabins and install interpretive panels that explain in better detail the historical significance of the park and each cabin.

“So this way, when you put them together (McDowell House, Constitution Square and the gift shop) you have a proper visitor experience,” Kirchner said.

“The gift shop is a great bridge between the two. I love the museum. … It’s important to getting people down here … then making Constitution Square almost like the museum’s big billboard,” said outgoing CVB board member Jerry Houck.

McDowell House was asked by the former Heart of Danville director to run the gift shop about three or four years ago, because it was a struggle for the Heart to continue it, Hamner said.

It’s been challenging for McDowell House since it absorbed the responsibility to staff and run the gift shop, but it’s something needed for that tourism area, Hamner said.

Director of the McDowell House Carol Sean said the organization isn’t allowed to make a profit with the gift shop because of its non-profit status. But if they could make a profit, with the help of the CVB, then that money would be given back to the park. “That would benefit everybody,” Sean said.

Hamner said, if the gift shop does “make a little bit of profit” it will be donated back to help with the upkeep of Constitution Park.

“Maybe we’ll get our flower money,” Kirchner said.

“We won’t have to ask for it, or cuss for it,” Hamner said, referring to recently requesting money for those items from Boyle County Fiscal Court.

Kircher said, “We managed to get flowers for the Governor’s Circle, but not very easily. It’s been a little bit of a challenge. So I think going forward, it’s up to us to really demonstrate value in the park to fiscal court and these are the types of things that make it a hub for activity. Our partnership is how we can do that.”