Building the Museum
In December of 2015, a summit of Historic Tours of America management met together to discuss the potentiality of something new, something
original for not only the city of Savannah, but for the nation as a whole- a museum dedicated to the prohibition of alcohol in the United States.
I was delighted to be included in this group- as a lover of history, and a historian by trade, the opportunity to not only run a museum but to be there through the “groundbreaking” to the “grand opening” was a spectacular thing! It was to be a one-of-a kind space, designed to entertain and educate at the same time. This would be no small task, something I found out quite quickly!
Initially designed to be roughly 4500 square feet of exhibition space, the American Prohibition Museum grew into an experience that encompassed nearly 6000 square feet, thirteen different galleries, four different vintage cars, a functioning (and fully stocked) speakeasy, a theater- the list continued on and on. As the story of Prohibition unfolded, the Savannah museum expanded and expanded.
It wasn’t just the Museum that expanded, but also our depth of knowledge and the collections. Text panels were developed, tightened, edited, re-edited, laid out, and designed. Artifacts were collected, inventoried, arranged, researched, and displayed. Windows were replaced, air conditioning was updated, bridges were built, and walls were erected.
But this was nothing new for Historic Tours of America, the largest privately owned heritage tourism company in the United States. HTA has operated since the early 1970s, providing vacationers unparalleled service as the “Nation’s Storyteller’s”. From two cut-down bread trucks dragging a converted boat trailer in Key West to millions and millions of guests enjoying a family of companies across the country, HTA has become the way Americans and international visitors alike get to “see the best first”.
The American Prohibition Museum has already been what feels like a lifetime of work, and between the teams of people who came together to make this possible, it may have actually been a lifetime worth of work! I’m pleased and thrilled to open our doors each morning and welcome our guests into an experience like none other. When you leave out on Congress Street after coming through the museum, speakeasy and gift shop, I hope you’ll go away with a better understanding about one of the most controversial and influential time periods in American history- and that you had a great time doing it.