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Revolutionary? Where? State Has To Help Tourists Find Historic Sites

Hartford Courant Editorial

May 21, 2012

Connecticut's new marketing campaign, "Still Revolutionary," with its mix of history and innovation, is a good first step to attract tourists. Studies show that travelers want to absorb the culture and history of their destinations.

But history is more than a tool to manipulate tourists. This marketing campaign will ring hollow unless Connecticut appreciates what it has and shows it the respect it deserves. The state has often treated its history as an afterthought, allowing buildings and treasured sites to fall apart.

Fortunately, it looks as if the Malloy administration is trying to change those priorities. It will use $6 million to improve four historic sites: the home of state heroine Prudence Crandall in Canterbury, the Henry Whitfield Museum (the state's oldest house) in Guilford, the Eric Sloane Museum in Kent and Old New-Gate Prison in East Granby.

The state is also hiring a consultant to convey the significance of such places as Fort Griswold, site of the tragic Battle of Groton Heights. Some 50 such spots have been chosen for five-minute videos, according to Kip Bergstrom, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development. "It's a work in progress," Mr. Bergstrom said.

That's fine and overdue. But the agency should also think about signs showing where places are and why they are important. It can be hard to find some of these historic sites. The days when Connecticut made halfhearted attempts to promote them should be over. Not only do they represent our shared heritage, but they are money in the bank for a state that needs all the business it can get.

One last thought: The new and interesting state website, http://www.ctvisit.com, has a timeline beginning in 1639 that promotes "revolutionary events in Connecticut history." However, it skips right over the ultimate act of revolution the Revolutionary War. Work in progress, indeed. That said, the state has made a good start.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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