Summer Experience

Back in early April, I had not given much thought about what I had planned on doing with my summer. I knew I wanted to do something, but I did not narrow it down to anything specific. However, when my friends started announcing their recent success at scoring internships, I began to want to participate in that with them. I went to our career services and told them that I was looking for an internship that I could utilize my major, history. Lynch's Landing was the first place they suggested. I had no prior background in historical preservation, so naturally I was a bit hesitant in pursuing the internship. Eventually I want to teach high school history, but the more I thought about it, the better it seemed to pursue this internship because it would widen my historical background as well as introduce me to something new and challenging. I met with Anna a few weeks later and we discussed ways in which I would be able to use my major to help further Lynch's Landing. I was so pleased to be given the opportunity to intern here this summer following my interview.

My first task involved Lynchburg Historical Foundation. I was responsible for collecting ghost stories from Downtown shops that would go in the ghost tour in the fall. I was given a list of places that seemed promising and I began to check them out. Unfortunately, I did not have much luck with several places on the list. The two places I had success were Market on Main and Catalano's. It was fun interviewing the owners and hearing their stories about their ghostly encounters. I also used this week to get my footing on where everything is located in Downtown. During my past 3 years at Sweet Briar, I had only been to Downtown about 3 or 4 times, so I had no idea where anything was located. However, the first week I immediately began walking back and forth on Main learning the location of all Downtown businesses.

My next task was getting acquainted with the architectural walking tour. I took the tour by myself and I must admit, I felt like a huge tourist walking around Downtown with a pamphlet in hand, turning in circles trying to find the building that matched the picture on the brochure. I took note of some of the buildings that caught my eye, and some buildings that were not mentioned on the walking tour. I then began to research buildings that were not on the walking tour, but had a substantial historical background. One of my favorite buildings that was on that list was Bragassa's Candy Store. I liked this building because of its story and long family history the building contained.

This project began to morph into updating and adding to the tours that Lynch's Landing offered. Lynch's Landing had a preexisting tour, the self-guided, architectural walking tour. I really did not have any idea how cities came up with tours. I have taken several in historic cities, but have never really given much thought as to how they became a public tour. Anna suggested that I first begin looking at other cities and gathering ideas from what they offered. Some of the most popular tours I kept coming across were Main Street tours, church tours, and African American history tours. A majority of the inspiration I gathered was online, but I did receive walking tour brochures from Columbia, SC in the mail. These brochures were such a big help because I was able to see the layout and organization of successful tours. They had also sectioned their tours off by districts, similar to what Anna had suggested. From there I began to create list of tours and add the buildings that would make up them. Anna narrowed the list down to three; Church, Lynchburg Getting Started, and Theater.

The first tour I started was the Church tour and I mostly obtained my information from Al Chambers book, "Lynchburg, An Architectural Guide". I also used the same source in completing the Lynchburg Getting Started Tour. That one was a bit more tricking considering some of Lynchburg's oldest buildings are no longer standing as many of them were demolished in the 60's. However, I was able to add buildings that once served as the first of its kind in Downtown. The theater tour was a working progress because I had to go to the Jones Memorial Library and shift through their collection of old news paper clippings and play bills. I like this kind of research with primary sources because I feel like it is much more hands on and connecting than it is reading it from a source book. I was also fortunate enough to tour the Academy of Fine Arts which was one of my favorite things I was able to do this summer.

After I had completed the written part of the walking tours, I began looking for photos that could go along with the tour and/or be placed online. I very much look forward to giving some of the walking tours in the Fall.

The tours were the main part of my summer at Lynch's Landing, however I did work on a few other task such as updating the kiosk which I was glad to do since I am a big kiosk user and it was severely out of date. I also was able to get acquainted with the store owners on Main Street because I often was popping in and out of several business dropping off papers. My other ongoing task was to help Stephanie with Trivia Tuesday. I liked this a lot because I enjoyed going through the old photos of Lynchburg and helping Stephanie pick out interesting ones. It was also interesting to see how many people were so well acquainted with their city. Some of the photos we posted seemed like they would be difficult to guess, but with in minutes several residents of Lynchburg had already guessed correctly.

Overall, I have really enjoyed my experience at Lynch's Landing this summer. It has been so nice learning how to do something that was completely new to me. I also liked how I was able to use my major and make it applicable to something other than writing term papers. Before starting this internship, I did not know anything about how rich in history Lynchburg is. When I came to Downtown for the first time, I looked at it like it was just like any other small city and did not think much of it. After completing this internship, I now see the Downtown community as one big family. Everyone in the area is so dedicated to bettering and furthering the city and it is really inspiring to see how much effort and time goes in to up keeping the area. I will truly miss working with Anna and Stephanie this fall and I am so thankful to be a part of the Downtown family for the past two and a half months.