Aaron Hollis, a Public History MA student, speaks about his summer internship.
Where are you interning and what is your role?
I am a summer intern at the Davenport House Museum in Savannah, Georgia. Master builder Isaiah Davenport constructed the home in 1820 for his family and nine enslaved people. By 1955, the handsome federal style home was rundown and slated for demolition. Upset over the loss of other structures in the city, seven ladies banded together to organize the Historic Savannah Foundation and saved the house.
Since then, that organization has saved over 350 buildings with their famous revolving fund and today remains the parent organization of the Davenport House Museum.
As an intern, my main project is to research the preservation movement in Savannah and how the city has transformed over the last 60 years. Savannahians and millions of tourists find a special sense of place in Savannah that they cannot find in a modern, more urban city. I want to capture the essence of that sentiment in a brochure that will not only educate visitors but will also inspire them to jump in and revitalize their own neighborhoods. I am also involved with several other projects like interpreter training and exhibit planning, and I enjoy giving tours of the site when we are down a docent. In addition, I give segway tours of Savannah’s historic district on the weekends.
How is this experience aiding in your education?
The Davenport has provided me an opportunity to utilize and reinforce skills I have learned at WVU and other sites at which I have worked. I have been able to further hone my research, communication, and design skills already this summer.
More importantly, this internship is teaching me new lessons that are difficult to capture in a classroom. I am building on my working knowledge of non-profit management and the real struggles that historic sites face every day such as raising funds, working with a board of directors, and managing volunteers. I also value the opportunity to see Savannah's huge tourism industry from the inside and the ways that this small site manages nearly forty thousand visitors every year.