Three virtual tours of the Guilford Courthouse Battle site, one of the most significant commemorative landscapes in North Carolina, illustrate many important themes in the history of commemoration. Together, the three tours highlight the myriad ways in which change transforms and alters commemorative sites that were intended to be timeless.
The first tour narrates the development of the site from the late nineteenth century until the present day. This tour explains the motivations and vision of the founders of the original park as well as the changes to that park after the National Park Service assumed custodianship of it. It also provides a brief glimpse of how ideas about historical preservation, interpretation, and commemoration have evolved over the past century and a half.
The second tour uses historic photographs to contrast the appearance of the site early in its history with that of the present day. As this tour vividly demonstrates, how visitors experience the site today is quite different from how the park’s founders intended because of changes in the landscape.
The third tour focuses on the historical geography of the monuments at the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. We can watch as the Guilford Battle Ground Company’s founders filled the landscape with monuments and recreation facilities. We can also watch as the National Park Service substantially redesigns the park and removes monuments after assuming responsibility for the historic site during the 1930s.