Danville visitors center has new digs

Published 7:32 pm Thursday, July 18, 2019

Partnerships between community members and government entities are making the McDowell House Museum and Constitution Square more efficient and visitor-friendly.

Constitution Square gift shop manager Latisha Lewis straightens up a small display Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Robin Hart)

The partnerships involve Boyle County Fiscal Court, Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Heart of Danville, McDowell House Museum, Constitution Square Gift Shop, Shepherd’s House and Janet Hamner, said CVB Assistant Director Jamee Peyton.

The partnerships stem from the McDowell House and the CVB deciding to work together at Constitution Square Park several months ago. Their agreement included moving the visitors center from Grayson’s Tavern to the Goldsmith House, on the corner of Second and Walnut streets, where HOD has its office and where the park’s gift shop is located. The CVB will help run the gift shop, and McDowell House will provide guided tours through the park, including Grayson’s Tavern, and the summer kitchen, which is located behind the tavern. It hasn’t been open for the public to tour in years, Peyton said. And Hamner is developing the new signs that will be placed throughout the park, she added.

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On Thursday, about 15 clients from the Shepherd’s House, a private non-residential substance abuse treatment facility, partnered with the CVB to move boxes, racks, filing cabinets and tourism publications to the Goldsmith House. Some of the clients also worked to spruce up the grounds of Constitution Square, Peyton said. “They all came out and chipped in today to finalize this,” so the public can come and enjoy the park, Peyton said as she was sweating and toting a box through the park.

They also hauled boxes from the gift shop to the storage space inside the old courthouse.

A couple of other clients painted the walls inside the newly cleaned out summer kitchen. Peyton said it took her nearly a year and a half to clean out all of the stacked boxes of old state park information that had been stored inside. Now, the brick floor and huge fireplace can be seen and appreciated by park visitors, Peyton said.

“Quite honestly, if it wasn’t for them (Shepherd’s House) coming and helping today, it wouldn’t be completed,” Peyton said.

Back inside the Goldsmith House, Peyton said HOD and its interim director Dustin Duval are allowing the CVB to use a large room next to the gift shop as a tour waiting area, and a place to expand more tourism information.

“It’s all like a partnership that has come together,” Peyton said. “We couldn’t do this without Dustin and the Heart of Danville. We couldn’t do this without Shepherd’s House.”

The McDowell House and CVB are “trying to expand the experience that we can provide at the park, and all the partnerships are really, really making it happen,” Peyton said.

Latisha Lewis, gift shop manager, has been putting new systems in place and reorganizing merchandise displays, Peyton said. Thursday’s move incorporated tourist information into the gift shop, Peyton said.

The summer kitchen, located behind Grayson’s Tavern facing Walnut Street at Constitution Square Park, will soon be open for visitors to tour. It has been used for storage for many years. On Thursday, clients of The Shepherd’s House painted the interior walls. (Photo by Robin Hart)

“We have to work together, and this just shows how much better we can make things, how much more efficient, how much more positive relationships and partnerships make this all happen.”