Written by Linda Ross
A total of three hundred and seventy-three buildings in town are listed on the National Register of Historic Places because they are preserved and contribute to the largely nineteenth century streetscapes around Marietta. It is always striking how familiar the many old postcard views are to our presentday eyes, but the importance of all these buildings is not only architectural. These buildings also illustrate the story of the people who lived here and made Marietta a “boom and bust” town during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Years ago, the Marietta Restoration Associates published a walking tour brochure that featured many of Marietta’s historic buildings. Over the years there had been talk of updating this illustrated guide and most recently a group of Community House history enthusiasts decided to take on the task. Not long into their extensive research and selection project, they became aware of a type of town tour that can be accessed through GPS on digital devices including smart phones. This format is being produced by a Lititz – based company called “Tutouria” and its productions include spoken narration, background music, and a selection of old photos of a particular historical site. A participant can stand in front of a particular building, hit a QR code and its story pops up on his phone or tablet.
Eager to engage younger generations who rely on their digital devices in Marietta’s historic architecture and the stories behind so many places in town, the Community House group engaged Erik Schouten at Tutouria and “Discover Marietta PA” was born. The committee has been sending him photographs and stories pertaining to the Community House, the Railroad Depot, the Vesta Furnace building and ten sites along Front Street. These sites will comprise Phase One of the tour. This almost-finished phase is proving to be quite a production with ragtime music accompanying historic accounts of taverns, more somber selections supporting dramatic tales of town fathers’ patriotic acts and driving rhythms enhancing historical accounts of the railroad. Included are many old photographs showing the iron industry, canal traffic, floods, and residences as they appeared at various times over history.
The increasing numbers of bicyclists in the borough was another factor driving the choice of a digital tour. Visitors will discover it through trail signage and yellow and black rack cards placed in boxes around town. Participants can do any number of sites depending on their time constraints.
When the Walking Tour Committee, which includes Lyn Baker Alari, Vivian Carroll, James Landis, Margaret Landis, Linda Ross and Karen Sullivan compiled the list to illustrate the town’s narrative, a total of sixty seven buildings were identified. Therefore, the tour would need to be created in phases. The first phase should be available to the public in the near future. Look for the yellow and black rack card displays as well as smaller black cards in windows with “Tutouria – every town has a story” and a QR code printed on them. There will also be notification on the Community House’s website, www.mariettacommunityhouse.org.