DANSVILLE — Take a modern approach to a historical tour within the downtown community.
Dansville Historical Walking Tour was launched at the Dogwood Festival on May 18 for the community and visitors to enjoy. It is attached to a Dansville Walking Tour App that can be downloaded to smartphones.
Several locals were part of the project, including Mayor Peter Vogt, Chris Lynn, Bevin Lynn, Salome Farraro, Nancy Helfrich, Susan DeMuth, Marissa Siciliano, Cris Riedel, and Brandon Pender.
“Chris and Salome were among the active members within the group. Bevin and Marissa did some behind the scenes work with music. Cris Riedel did the narration. Brandon Pender did the technical aspect and audio. OnCell out of Rochester was the App developer,” Vogt said. “We wanted something to draw people downtown. Randy DeMuth mentioned the idea of the tour to us after he had come back from vacation. He would see plaques set up at the National Parks talking about the views. I got a committee together, and once Sue and Nancy came along it evolved into a walking tour.”
Vogt added that with the use of smartphones and modern technology there is no need for highly expensive plaques to be set up and maintained around the village.
“Most people have smartphones, and we don’t need to worry about vandalism. The App can be expanded and updated right from my office. We have done lots of work putting this together,” he said. “We set it up so that audio can be listened too, but we took into consideration the hearing impaired. There are write-ups on each stop in the App for those who are hearing impaired. We would be interested in setting up other tours within the App in the future such as a Wellness Tour, Transportation Tour, or Public Arts Tour.”
Chris Lynn said they all did a lot of research on each of the 10 stops within the tour.
“We had to decide what would be on the first 10 stops of the tour, and we each had to do a lot of research on those stops,” he said. “Cris Riedel was chosen to narrate the stops, since she is a professional storyteller. Brandon was chosen to do sound and audio editing. Bevin plays the piano on some of the audio. Marissa sings a song on one of the stops.”
Lynn added that several people in the community had a part in making this possible.
“All of the talent came from right here in Dansville. We focused on Main Street, but wanted to include other parts of Dansville. We have the Clara Barton House, Dansville Public Library, and the G.A.R. Monument.”
Farraro said her task was to reach out to her contact at the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery after Helfrich suggested On Cell.
“Once I found out how happy the museum was with OnCell the next step was to decide what our first 10 stops would be,” she said. “We had to divide the research among those in the committee. I was lucky enough to know someone who had worked with OnCell, so it worked out well. We had mentioned using markers, and the work it would take to maintain them. We decided it was less expensive to go with the App.”
Farraro added the whole point was to get people out of their cars, and out enjoying the history of the community.
“We wanted people to get out of their cars and use the technology to connect with the community,” she said. “We really feel like we have something special here. We have a lot of creative people with great ideas. We find that using technology really works in this age, and this kind of tourism makes a huge impact on the community.”
Pender said he enjoyed being part of the team that worked on this project for the community.
“We had a great time working on this project. I had a great time working on the audio and giving directions. Chris had approached me about working on this App. I had been a history buff my whole life, so I was interested in working on the project,”he said. “I recorded Cris doing all the narration, and I recorded all the audio. I worked on all of the editing and directing.”
Vogt said that he wanted to promote the history of the community, and make visitors aware of it when they are coming into the village.
“Downtown is a designated national historic district, and I want to make everyone aware of it. We want to highlight what we have downtown. We have a number of people with a connection to downtown,” he said.
Vogt has some other positive ideas on how to improve the village moving forward.
In the beginning stages are talks of a Clara Barton Bronze Statue being placed somewhere in the village. The favorite spot for her would be near St. Paul’s Lutheran Church where the American Red Cross was born.
“Some people had an idea for the statue a few years ago, but it never got off the ground. Barry Haywood is a lifelong resident of Dansville, active American Red Cross member, Dansville Lions Club member, and is very community oriented. He is the chairman of the statue committee. I am letting him run with it,” Vogt said. “Based on where we place the statue we may have village crew help with it. We are going to need to raise money for it. Several are involved with this project like Jon Shay, Tom Wamp, and Bill Bacon.”
The new Dansville Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from June 22 to Oct. 19 on Ossian Street is another big project. Vogt hopes to turn that into a big event that brings people downtown with entertainment, food, and activities.
Vogt mentioned how several important roads empty into downtown, like Route 36, Route 63, Route 256, Route436 and the I390.
Some other points include a skateboard park and a new playground at Babcock Park. These items are being looked at by the village as soon as possible.
Another big project that needs to be underway soon is the maintenance of the old historic markers. Vogt said they are in serious need of repair and fresh paint. These markers include Red Cross, First Church, First House, and others that have rusted up over time.
Vogt added he would like to see fresh new markers come in from the William Pomeroy Foundation for Austin Street, Battle Street, Kings Daughters House, The Castle on the Hill, St. Mary’s Annex and Noyes Hospital.
To download the Dansville Historic Walking Tour App just visit your App Store. It is free and available on all smartphone devices. It is a self-guided tour that can be taken at your own pace. The 10 stops start at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at the American Red Cross birthplace.