Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism Grant Community Highlight: Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc.

November 30, 2022 | Logan Breer

Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 selected communities through a competitive process to fund projects focused on strengthening heritage and cultural tourism in rural Missouri. The Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grant was awarded to recipients in March of 2022. Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc., (HLDI) an Accredited Main Street program, was awarded one of the grants. This grant allowed them to focus on their historic assets and market themselves to prospective visitors to increase heritage tourism in their economy.

Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. is located in Liberty, Missouri which is a community that could be accurately described as having a strong sense of history. Liberty was incorporated in 1829, making it the second oldest incorporated town west of the Mississippi River. It has seen several notable historic events such as the first daylight, peacetime bank robbery and is home to five local historic districts as well as seven districts and seven individual properties on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, Liberty boasts a downtown historic Square and many notable historic sites of interest in the surrounding area. Additionally, it was designated by the White House as a Preserving America community in 2007, as a way to encourage and support the preservation and promotion of America’s cultural and natural heritage.

The Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grant provided the funds for Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. to focus on promoting two of their many historic assets which experienced decline in visitors due to the pandemic. The first is the Clay County Museum that hosts rotating galleries of various historical artifacts relating to Clay County, Missouri as a way to invite people to honor the past, live in the present, and prepare for the future. Additionally, the Jessie James Bank Museum showcases the bank where the first daylight, peacetime bank robbery took place in 1866. The museum immerses guest in the story of the robbery with the help of period furnishings throughout.

Each museum had promotional marketing campaigns launched over the summer of 2022 by Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. and its project partners to bring awareness and increase foot traffic to them and the district, primarily featuring photographs of the museums, points of interest, and information about each museum. Traditional and modern promotion channels distributed information to draw people to these sites and inviting them to stay and linger.

Downtown Liberty brochures

Brochures were stocked at each museum including HDLI brochures featuring a map of sites to visit, shops, and restaurants. Additional educational brochures were also included for other local attractions like the African American Legacy, Sculpture Walking Tour, and Historical Walking Tour. On social media, content focused on promoting local day-trippers and overnight stays.

Liberty Historical Walking Tour

Both museums reported an increase in visitors and local businesses. Restaurants and different specialty shops also indicated that the traffic generated from the promotion of the museums increased people who came into their stores.  You would be surprised that heritage tourism is not just for in-state adult visitors, but it also interests kids and out-of-state visitors who came by the museums to learn about the interesting tales and events that happened in Missouri’s past.

Missouri Main Street Connection awarded the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism Grants in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Liberty Heritage Grant Historical Tours