German Village Gazette

Village notebook

Visitors Center update plan is nearing reveal stage

Maybe you've heard a rumor.

Maybe you're one of the hundred or so people who have seen the draft.

I want to confirm -- we are moving forward on plans to update our Visitors Center.

If you haven't been to the Visitors Center, or haven't been lately, it is worth your trip.

Already it serves as a welcome center for the neighborhood -- indeed, the entire city -- for new residents and visitors alike.

It is entirely staffed by some of our MOST dedicated volunteers who know the Village like the backs of their hands, and many can spin stories about their 40-plus, 50-plus -- even 80-plus -- years living right here.

You can watch our 8-minute history video, where Village resident and WBNS-TV (Channel 10) journalist Kristyn Hartman walks you through the high points of German settlement and preservation pioneer history.

On tableaus and in our exhibit case, you learn even more about what makes the South Side, and especially German Village, so special.

When you add up the 10,000-plus visitors we log, the 3,000-plus tour groups who come through our doors, all of the guests of brides and grooms and partiers of all types who rent the Meeting Haus, and then put that together with our own committees and member groups in the building on a regular basis, the place easily sees more than 20,000 people a year.

And that is what makes our Visitors Center our greatest asset to live our mission.

With so many eyes and ears tuned into our story of preservation in that one location, it is time we maximize the education and storytelling it can deliver.

Thanks to Development Committee member Sarah Benson, who engaged a team at Continental Office, we have received our first round of drawings for the Visitors Center remodel. They are stunning.

The vision Continental has shared is one that makes our Visitors Center into an interactive, tactile experience spread over three rooms.

The ability to bring our rich archival items out of storage and into exhibit space permeates the concept.

The ability to touch and feel and learn more and research all under one roof is also imbued in the project.

The new Visitors Center will be fun for visitors of every age, and will be a crowning jewel in our community that evokes pride among our members.

We unveiled the draft plans to a group of donors back in December.

We have also showed it to a core group of regular volunteers and, of course, the German Village Society Board of Trustees.

We have engaged our fundraiser, Tanya Rutner of Raising Green Productions, to help us carry the charge to raise money for the project.

So why, many people are wondering, haven't we shared more?

Well, there's much yet to do on this project and we want to get the steps right and the concept completely focused before we go for the big reveal.

Monday, the Board helped me choose a committee to shepherd the stages of finalizing design and remodeling plans.

That group will consult with Historic Preservation Committee, our consulting preservationist Jody Graichen, our regular pool of volunteers, and will likely take some field trips to some of Columbus' other interactive success stories.

Then, they'll work with Continental to make final decisions and present that vision to the Board.

When the Board adopts the final plans, then Tanya will lead the Development Committee in putting together a mini capital campaign to finance it.

It is at THAT point we'll be ready for the big reveal.

So standby for news. The rumors are true and we are hard at work on this very exciting project.

We hope you'll want to be a part -- even if your part is just to come to the grand opening and re-experience the Center again or for the first time.

German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.

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