$12M renovation of Valley Forge visitor center set to begin

November 30, 2018

Source, Philadelphia Business Journal, Kenneth Hilario

A $12 million project to renovate the visitor center at the Valley Forge National Historical Park will soon begin.

The National Park Service on Dec. 14 will open a temporary 5,760-square-foot visitor center within the Valley Forge National Historical Park, located 800 feet away from the current visitor center.

With the temporary structure in place, construction will begin on Dec. 17 for the $12 million renovation of the 18,376-square-foot visitor center, which will be complete in late spring 2020.

The multimillion-dollar upgrade is part of a larger $14 million project meant to create a more immersive guest experience, re-engage the community and attract new visitors.

The new visitor center after renovations will have improved physical accessibility, improved collections storage and energy-efficiency improvements, among others.

The Encampment Store and the current interpretive exhibits in the visitor center will remain open to the public through Dec. 9. The Encampment Store will then reopen to the public on Dec. 14 in the temporary visitor center.

Other services like the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board information desk, public tours and the park orientation film will continue in the new structure during construction.

The Encampment Store, the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board and the National Park Service will co-manage the new visitor center’s retail bookstore, regional travel information desk and park information desk.

About 2.1 million people in 2017 visited the 3,452-acre Valley Forge National Historical Park, generating about $39.9 million in economic output, according to the Park Service.

National historical parks are viewed as an area’s gateway, and visitor centers are typically tourists’ first destination in a new city, providing information on where to eat, drink, visit and more.

The Valley Forge park is the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army under George Washington.

The Independence Visitor Center at the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood is also undergoing its own $15 million, multi-phase renovation and improvement project.

That project is about two-thirds complete; the most recent milestones were the openings of two new theaters and interactive exhibit experiences.

The last phase of the Independence Visitor Center’s expansion, also meant to enhance the guest experience, is set to be completed in spring 2019.