The Marketing of History: Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle Today

Now that the steps in creating a Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle have been discussed, an examination of Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle today must be made. Today, the area maintains many of the same historic sites that have come "on-line" in the past 60 years, yet there exists a striking difference in the nature of the history. This primary difference is the marketing of history, the specific intention of historical preservation, promotion, and education, to serve as attractors within the tourist industry. Such marketing is in itself a process of creating history, for history must be chosen, manipulated, and promoted in the best interests of tourism. A brief examination of today's marketing of Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle may demonstrate this point.

Upon planning a trip to the area, a tourist may draw upon several resources. They may either explore the region virtually through the means of the world wide web, or they may call or send off for information from local sources. One of the largest web sites potential tourists may visit is the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau page. A major part of the site addresses the local history and points tourists in specific directions:

If you are a history buff visiting the Charlottesville area, you'll have the opportunity to travel through time. Return to the revolutionary era, and feel the excitement of a new country being born, with its roots right here in the heart of Virginia. Travel the paths of our founding fathers followed so often: from Jefferson's Monticello to Monroe's Ash Lawn, and on to Michie Tavern ca. 1784.
From this introduction, the site takes potential tourists to descriptions of many other historical sites in the area. It may be seen that since the primary purpose of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitor's Bureau is to promote tourism, history is clearly being used as a marketing tool. Many other sites exist describing and promoting the historical sites of the area with tourism in mind. These sites, in combination with the one heretofore discussed help to create a Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle on the world wide web.

If "sending off" for information about historic sites within the area, a potential tourist may receive a variety of brochures from either the Charlottesville-Albemarle Chamber of Commerce or the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitor's Bureau. These brochures, many of which may be seen on the home page of this project, provide detailed descriptions of specific historic sites, from Monticello to Ash Lawn to the University of Virginia. One such brochure, a Visitor Guide to the area, is published by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Chamber of Commerce. Referring to the "rich history" of the area, the Guide describes the historical attractions:

The Charlottesville-Albemarle area is steeped in history from the time of the Founding Fathers.

Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, the third and fifth presidents of the United States, both called Albemarle home. James Madison, the fourth president, was a resident of nearby Orange County.

The homes of the three presidents all have been restored and attract thousands of visitors annually.

Jefferson's home of Monticello, located just south of Charlottesville, has been completely restored and authentically furnished by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. Visitors can learn more about Jefferson, or take a stroll along its majestic grounds. It is open year round. Call (804)984-9800 for information and ticket prices.

This brochure, along with the many others, serve to promote tourism through the acknowledgment of a Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle.

When arriving in Charlottesville/Albemarle, most tourists are directed to the major sites. These sites, in their own respect, promote the historicity of the area by creating their indiviudal histories. The main sites in Charlottesville/Albemarle are the following:


When tourists and visitors alike travel to Charlottesville and Albemarle County they find an entity known as Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle. Complete with promotional guides and web pages, these sites have been adapted to welcome and attract visitors. In fact, this is clearly their primary goal. Yet, though these sites have stood form many centuries, it was not until the past sixty-five years that they assumed their current form. In this sense, it may be concluded that Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle is a tangible creation. Beginning in the Great Depression, initial Guides first labeled the historic sites of this area. From then until now, national, state, and independent organizations added more history to this area. In the past few decades, these historic sites became commodities in themselves for tourism and modified in form even further.

Two forces may be witnessed in the creation of Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle. First, a conscious need and effort to connect to the past in the search for national and local identities. Second, the acknowledgment of history as a commodity, able to sustain commercial growth in itself. From this project, it may be seen that these forces initiated the steps that were taken in the creation of Historic Charlottesville/Albemarle.