On December 29, the Franklin County Visitors Bureau (FCVB) completed purchase of a former bank property at 15 South Main Street on the southwest quadrant of Chambersburg’s Memorial Square. The nearly 10,000-sq. ft. building will be a launching point for visitors to Franklin County, providing a variety of rotating exhibits, displays of local art, originating tours to destinations throughout the county, and providing expanded awareness to Franklin County’s events and destinations. The location will utilize the bank’s vault as a small theatre for visitors to view a variety of videos, including Road to Freedom: Underground Railroad of South Mountain and 1864 Burning of Chambersburg. In addition, an area will be designated as a resource library of local publications and online resources of Franklin County. As FCVB’s new home, 15 South Main Street will house the administrative offices and include a 950-sq.ft. meeting and event space for FCVB to stage seminars, presentations, and hold community events.
Along with the new location, FCVB is planning to begin a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) Program to create an educated, trained pool of volunteers to interpret and share the many stories of Franklin County. With significant early American, Underground Railroad, and Civil War history, Franklin County has a rich heritage. Complementing this history are important PA conservation stories, fresh foods, seasons of festivals, performing arts venues, varied arts and artisan initiatives, and distinctive community architecture. All will be incorporated into specific Franklin County training and will give many opportunities for CTAs to tell Franklin County’s stories.
FCVB will begin the CTA Program in April 2017 and hopes to train more than five dozen CTAs by September 2017. Design for the facility is presently under development. Rehab to the property is expected to begin in mid-Spring 2017, and FCVB is targeting move-in for December 2017. Overall, 2017 promises to be an eventful and formative year for tourism in Franklin County PA.