My Destination Ann Arbor post about exploring Heritage Tours via an app

Screen Shot 2019-10-16 at 2.50.54 PM.pngYou don’t need a “Back to the Future” DeLorean to visit Washtenaw County’s past. Any car, or even just a smartphone, will do. Yes, Washtenaw County’s Office of Community & Economic Development recently began translating heritage tour “story maps” via an app called Vamonde. “It’s this exciting thing we found last year, where we can share historic information but also connect you directly to Google maps,” said historic preservation specialist Melinda Schmidt. “…That gets to the heart of what we’re trying to get at with almost all of our tours: to encourage people to drive around and explore the more rural parts of the county.” This applies to long-established local heritage tours like the historic barns tour; a Greek Revival architecture tour; a German heritage tour; and the Esek Pray Trail. (Generally, the spots highlighted on these tours are private property, so visitors must settle for looking at them from the road.)

Other tours, meanwhile – which may highlight places where few of the original structures remain (Willow Run, as well as Heritage Foodways) – are best experienced virtually, via the app. “When it comes to the Willow Run tour and the Foodways tour, our aim was educational,” said Schmidt. “They’re geared toward school groups, so kids and teens can connect, in a tangible way, to the history around them.”

More broadly, though, these tours aim to provide visitors and locals with a profound sense of place. “That’s so important as we grow our local economies and communities, especially in light of sprawl,” said Schmidt. “If we can spread the word about some of these treasures, and share them with the rest of the county, we can help these communities become better known and valued.” READ THE REST HERE

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