Crossroads Executive Director Janice Selinger and Past Chair Patrick Murray offered perspectives on planning for the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution during a July 26 hearing of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee. The hearing, chaired by Senator James Beach (LD 6 – Cherry Hill) and held at the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, focused on ways to strengthen the state’s historic preservation efforts, and how to prepare for the 250th.
During her testimony, Selinger highlighted the work ahead for a public-private partnership to prepare New Jersey’s historic sites and organizations to welcome an influx of visitors. “We expect the competition for the heritage tourist’s attention to be fierce during the 250th celebration, and we don’t want New Jersey to miss out. A comprehensive inventory of the state’s Revolutionary-era historical sites will reveal areas where potential site improvements should be made. Just as important, interviews with historic site staff, volunteers and management will uncover needs for visitor services training, including story telling skills to engage guests and encourage them to recommend New Jersey to their friends. The findings of the inventory will guide ongoing efforts to prepare these sites to meet visitor needs and offer a compelling experience.”
Murray encouraged the committee to consider the potential tourism and economic benefits of cohesive branding of New Jersey’s Revolutionary sites and stories. ” Imagine a branded week-long self-tour around the Battle of Monmouth – the largest land artillery engagement of the entire war. You could follow the British forces as they evacuated Philadelphia, stopping at Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield as you traverse your way along the quaint river towns of Burlington County. Or you could follow the Continental line by starting your journey in Lambertville. As you head across the middle of the state you could stop at a winery or other agritourism opportunity.”
Additional speakers offering perspective from the historical community included New Jersey Historic Trust Executive Director Dorothy Guzzo, New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) Director Sara Cureton, NJHC Chair Maxine Lurie, 1st Rhode Island Reenactors President Algernon Ward, and Old Barracks Museum Executive Director Richard Patterson.