Valley Forge National Historical Park has begun a phased reopening of its recently renovated Visitor Center building. This is the building’s first comprehensive overhaul since it opened in 1976.
The $12 million rehabilitation project – which began in late fall 2018 – features improved physical accessibility, upgraded security and fire protection, improved collections storage, an all- new HVAC system, windows, flooring, carpets, signage, and a variety of energy efficiency improvements.
The first phase of the two-phase reopening went into effect on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
The refurbished building will be open to the public Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and in anticipation of a busy summer season, offer the opportunity to shop at The Encampment Store’s (TES) retail bookstore, visit the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board’s (VFTCB) Montgomery County Welcome Center regional travel desk, as well as provide additional public restroom facilities, and air-conditioning.
The second phase of the reopening is projected to begin this fall, and will include the renovation of the theater building and the installation of all new interpretive and museum exhibits in the Visitor Center.
“We are doing a phased opening so we could offer some amenities to our visitors, despite not being fully operational. The welcome mat will remain out for visitors to return again later when the new exhibits are installed and the theater is open,” said Superintendent Rose Fennell. “We are fortunate to have the benefit and expertise of the VFTCB travel desk to help orient visitors to the area, and of our retail partner – The Encampment Store – which enhances the park experience by providing park-themed merchandise and snacks.”
Park staff are in the process of moving their offices and materials into the new space. The Encampment Store is also offering bike rentals and private tours this summer. The public is invited to call 610-551-7870 to make reservations, or visit the Bike Rental Shop located at the Visitor Center lower parking lot.
Guests will also be encouraged to “Explore, Discover and Unwind” in the VFTCB’s county welcome center with a map of the county, Visitors Guides and other publications, QR codes for free mobile apps (Visit Valley Forge and Montco Makers), video screens and other visual info on towns, hotels, and attractions throughout the region.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to see their social media photos on a bigger screen by simply using #MakeItMontco.
“The Visitor Center serves as the perfect starting point for orientation to the park and the area, whether it’s for trail exploration, a tour through the encampment, or learning about the variety of county happenings,” said Rachel Riley, Senior Director of Communications for the VFTCB. “It’s a great resource to connect to neighbors, and amenities in your backyard.”
The park’s new museum exhibits will immerse visitors in the six-month period of the 1777-1778 winter encampment through color, sound, and textures of wood, metal, and mud.
The new 19-minute park orientation film will be shown on a brand-new screen and 4K digital projector once the theater renovation is completed (projected early 2022).
The film currently is available to watch online.
There will also be a phased reopening of other park facilities. Park staff will expand operations to reopen Washington’s Headquarters shortly after moving materials into the Visitor Center.
The park contributes more than $36 million in positive economic impact, attracting over 2 million visitors annually with the Visitor Center serving more than 250,000 guests alone each year.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience while the museum exhibits are installed and the theater building is renovated,” Fennell continued. “I feel honored to be at Valley Forge to witness the culmination of the dedicated efforts of staff, volunteers, and the community.”