New digs for Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau

Tourism plays a major role in Chester County’s economy. According to County Commissioner Terrance Farrell, tourism brings $877 million into the county each year, and provides $260 million in salaries to the 10,000 people employed in the industry.

So, it’s no surprise that the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau wanted a headquarters commensurate with such activity. That’s what happened Oct. 3 when the bureau cut the ribbon on its newly renovated space in Longwood after years in West Chester. The new location holds both the visitors’ center and the bureau’s offices.

The building is in front of Longwood Gardens and behind the Longwood Fire Co.

It had been the historic Longwood Progressive Meeting House where many members of the founding families in the region — such as the Mendenhalls and Pennocks — and others who hid runaway slaves met. Freed slave Frederick Douglas also spoke there.

Nina Kelly, communications director for the bureau, said the move is significant.

“It’s a no-brainer to be here, outside the gates of Longwood where there’s more than a million visitors per year,” Kelly said.

She said those visitors can leave the gardens, come to the visitors bureau and get all kinds of information on other tourist sites in the county and Brandywine Valley.

“Visitors will find personal service, so it’s always manned 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days per week. We’ve made lots of hotel and restaurant reservations from this building. We have plenty of brochures and information as well as our visitors’ guide and things like that,” she said.

Blair Mahoney, the bureau’s executive director, said the historic nature of the building is significant because of the Underground Railroad and the Quaker influence in the county. The history, he said, is present in the building.

He added that visitors would be helped because there’s much to see and do in Chester County and having some human contact in learning where to go is far better than just relying on the Internet.

Blair Mahoney, second from left, along with Chester County Commissioners (from left) Ryan Costello, Terrence Farrell and Kathi Cozzone, cut the ribbon for the new Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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