This story was corrected at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2012. An explanation follows.
Rockville is considering joining a state program to promote tourism at historic sites through publicity and grant funding.
Robin Ziek, Rockville’s historic preservation planner, said promoting the city’s history brings in more visitors. “Heritage tourism” to historic sites also encourages people to spend more time — and money — in town.
“If you come here on a bicycle trip and you get hungry and you want to go for a soda or something at Starbucks, you’re helping our economic development,” she said.
The city is considering participating in the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority program by joining the Montgomery County Heritage Area. If Rockville joins the program, it can apply for grants for its programs and capital projects at heritage sites.
The county organization also will add Rockville’s historic landmarks to its marketing materials, which Ziek hopes will help bring more visitors to the city.
Rockville’s historic sites include the Beall-Dawson House and Stonestreet Museum of 19th Century Medicine.
The Glenview Mansion, a 19th century neoclassical home located in the 153-acre Rockville Civic Center Park, hosts car shows, weddings and art displays. The mansion, the park and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre on the property attract about 95,000 visitors each year.
Susan Klise, Glenview Mansion’s administrator, said tourism already brings lots of people to Rockville.
“We have hometown holidays, we have the car show ... the farmers market brings in people from all around,” she said.
Ziek said Rockville already has the hotels, restaurants and location to support tourism; now it just needs to get the word out.
“We’re right in the middle of the county, so somebody who wants to see an Underground Railroad event in Sandy Spring, which is in the east part of the county, and then decides to pick up some apples in the west side of the county will come through Rockville, and we’re great for lunch,” Ziek said.
In years past, the program has provided grants to restore the Poole Store in Poolesville, to develop a living history program at the Button Farm Living History Center in Germantown, and to host Civil War programs, among other projects.
Mary van Balgooy, executive director of the historic preservation organization Peerless Rockville, said the city or nonprofit organizations like hers could apply for grant money through the program.
“For us, it just opens up another pool of money that ... was not available before,” she said.
To join the program, Rockville will have to amend its master plan to adopt the Montgomery County Heritage Area Management Plan. The plan does not add any new restrictions for owners of historic properties. A section on Rockville also will be added to the county’s heritage management plan.
The Rockville Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the amendment at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at City Hall. For more information, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/masterplan/HeritageAreaManagementPlan.html or call 240-314-8230.
Correction: The original story included the Josiah Henson Historic Site as one of the historic sites located in Rockville. That site is actually outside the city limits.