The partners are Valentine and its Wickham House; APVA/Preservation Virginia and its John Marshall House; and the Historic Richmond Foundation, which will soon open Monumental Church for tours.
But the Museum of the Confederacy, which has had recent problems attracting visitors, isn't taking part in the most recent effort offering admission into all three destinations for the price of one. In a statement, Waite Rawls, the museum's executive director, says the museum supports the group but declined to participate "because our experience tells us that this general ticket does not serve the Civil War destination visitor well."
Bill Martin, director of the Valentine Richmond History Center, says the Museum of the Confederacy is simply going through "transition periods right now. We're moving forward with this, knowing this will benefit the entire neighborhood."
The three partners have already consolidated their bookkeeping and financial management, along with tour operations, appointing one person to serve as chief financial officer and another to oversee the tours. They also intend to print one brochure that will serve all three sites. These efficiencies will save the Valentine alone about $50,000 per year, Martin says.
Beginning May 1, the three will offer a $10 combination ticket for all the 19th-century sites (Monumental Church, on Broad Street, will be added on summer weekends), thus helping ensure visitors see everything there is to see in Court End.
"What we have to do is get our act together, to get them off the interstate and into town," says Conover Hunt, executive director of the Historic Richmond Foundation. She points to a recent study in Charleston, S.C., that showed tourists' No. 1 reason for visiting was simply to walk around the historic neighborhoods.
"You have to make it easy for the visitor," Hunt says, by helping them navigate the area's bustling streets. The brochure and information provided will include the Museum of the Confederacy, the Capitol and notable VCU buildings. And eventually, Hunt adds, "hopefully the Museum of the Confederacy will come in as a part of the Court End tour." S