News Column

Hofwyl-Broadfield historic site in Georgia gets 2 more days of operation each week starting Wednesday

July 2, 2014

By Terry Dickson, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville



July 02--BRUNSWICK -- Bill Giles, manager of Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, traveled around Glynn County Tuesday carefully changing brown road signs to show the state historic site will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

It is the other five days that matter, however, because starting Wednesday the antebellum plantation just south of the Altamaha River gets back two full days with its gate open.

When state revenues plummeted in 2009, the state cut Hofwyl-Broadfield's operating days to Thursday through Saturday.

The park's friends organization has been working ever since to get the hours restored. The Friends of Hofwyl-Broadfield provided funding for the staff that will allow the additional hours.

Getting the word out is not as simple as changing a few signs.

Ranger Faye Cowart was making the rounds to visitor centers, information stops and any place else that hands out tourism brochures to put in rack cards with the new hours. Another staffer was on line trying to update the information at TripAdvisor.com and other tourism websites.

As much as he wanted the days restored, Hofwyl-Broadfield trustee Gordon Strother was just as interested in a few additional Sunday hours. Even before the cuts, Sunday in the park was a half day with the gate open from 2 until 5 p.m.

Strother wanted the park opened before noon on Sundays figuring that tourists may want one last place to stop before hitting the road home in the afternoon. When the park opened at 2 p.m., they had finished lunch and gone, Strother said.

Giles said the reasoning is sound and he has a good example just up U.S. 17 in Darien at Fort King George State Historic Site. Unlike Hofwyl-Broadfield, the State Parks Division extended Fort King George's operating hours rather than cutting them during the recession and the result was increased revenue.

"When Fort King George went to a full day Sunday, visitation improved 150 percent,'' Giles said.

Giles also took a look at travel patterns.

"We were opening up just as the traffic was slowing down," he said.

Giles said he doesn't expect an immediate jump in visitation.

"It'll probably take a little while to get a foothold," he said.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405

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(c)2014 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

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Source: Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL)


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