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Historic District Tours

Description: The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site (NHS) is located within the Downtown Historic District of Greeneville, Tennessee. As with many historic downtowns, the historic district struggles to remain economically viable while new shopping, lodging, dining, and other commercial development locate along highway corridors around the periphery of the town.

Greeneville, Tennessee was founded in 1783 and is the state's second oldest town. The Downtown Historic District which surrounds the NHS is full of cultural resources that relate to the life of President Andrew Johnson. It is in the best interest of the NHS to participate in efforts to keep the area economically viable, thereby preserving the educational and cultural environment for the NHS visitors.

The NHS received an operational base funding increase in fiscal year 2003 and was interested in expanding its educational programs. However, management realized that due to inflation, any programs started with NPS employees would most likely have to be scaled back or ended within a few years. Therefore, a search for a way to continue the programs, after NHS funding was no longer available, led to the formation of the historic district tours partnership with Main Street Greeneville, Inc. (MSG)., a nonprofit tax-exempt organization. One of five original Main Street communities in Tennessee, MSG was organized in 1983 and is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation program that encourages economic improvement and physical renovation in downtowns within the context of historic preservation.

Park management participated with the Greene County Partnership's (local Chamber of Commerce) Tourism Advisory Task Force formed in January 2003 to identify goals and strategies for improving the county's tourism. One goal was to determine if the creation of additional guided tours in the community was feasible, and if so, how it could be made to happen. By April, 2003 the NHS had received notice of its operational base funding increase included within the 2003 NPS appropriation and shared with the Task Force its ability to fund additional guided tours that related to the Andrew Johnson story. The Task Force distributed a survey in April 2003 to a broad segment of the community requesting input on the types of tours that would be preferred.

With the results of that survey in hand, park management considered a variety of delivery methods. It was decided that a Cooperative Agreement (CA) with another organization was the most desirable method for program delivery.

During Fall 2003, park management approached the Executive Director of MSG to determine if MSG would be interested in entering into a Cooperative Agreement to deliver the guided tours. The Executive Director expressed immediate interest and agreed that once the park drafted a CA, it should be presented to MSG's Board of Directors for tentative approval, prior to being reviewed by the Office of the Solicitor. Working with Great Smoky Mountains NP's Contracting Officer, the park drafted a CA which was presented to MSG for their board's review in December 2003. The MSG Board gave tentative approval to enter into the CA on January 13, 2004.

The draft CA was forwarded to the Department of Interior for legal review, through the Regional Director's Office. The Office of the Solicitor found the CA legally sufficient, as long as 15 suggested changes to the text were incorporated into the CA. Those changes were made and the CA was formally signed and executed in a ceremony.

The CA between the NHS and MSG provides for the NHS to offer program management and financial assistance to MSG which will develop, deliver, and market two separate guided tours. The NHS will provide training to the tour guides and assist MSG in developing the tour format and content. The NHS will also monitor the tours for quality, public reaction, and assist MSG in making adjustments to the presentations as needed. The CA limits NHS financial assistance to no more than $20,000 per year during fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

Efforts to promote tourism within the historic district are widely supported by the Town of Greeneville, the Downtown Merchants Association, the Tourism Director of the Greene County Partnership, and historic preservation groups such as Main Street: Greeneville, Inc. (MSG).

MSG will offer a guided tour of the Downtown Historic District six days per week at 9:30 a.m. from April 1st through October 31st of each year. This tour will educate the public about the lifestyles and the structures in Greeneville during Andrew Johnson's lifetime.

MSG will be offering a guided tour of the Dickson-Williams Mansion daily at 1:00 p.m. on a year around schedule. This impressive house museum was originally occupied by one of Andrew Johnson's chief political adversaries.

Fees will be charged for the tours by MSG and it is hoped that by the time NHS financial assistance ends, the fees will sustain the delivery of the guided tours, or that another organization(s) will step in and provide any additional needed financial assistance. It is also hoped that the tours will expose visitors to "downtown historic district" shopping, lodging and dining opportunities.

Geographic area covered: Downtown Historic District, Greeneville, Tennessee.

List of partners and relationships: Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Main Street: Greeneville, Inc. (an affiliate organization of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Program), and the Greene County Partnership's Tourism Department which will assist with tour promotion and marketing.

Accomplishments to date: Guided tours will begin in July 2004.

Key success factors:

  1. Maintaining active involvement with local interest groups and identifying compatible goals that can be achieved by working together.
  2. Identifying a core group of individuals that are highly motivated and willing to work together cooperatively.
  3. A good Cooperative Agreement that spells out each organization's responsibilities.
  4. A supportive attorney in the Department of the Interior's Office of the Solicitor.

Frustrations: None so far.

Most important lessons learned to date: Allow the partner to make major program decisions, especially when the partner will eventually assume full control for the program.

What would you do differently next time: Too early to tell.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study): Cooperative Agreement (available through the Andrew Johnson NHS).

For more information:

Name: Mark Corey
Affiliation: Superintendent, Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
Phone/Fax: 423-639-3711 ext. 101

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvements__; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery _X_; Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism _X_; Community Relations __;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Mark Corey Date posted: 7/1/04
Phone: 423-639-3711 ext. 101

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