Peirce Mill is the last existing mill in the District of Columbia and the only 19th-century gristmill maintained by the National Park Service that operates on a full-time basis. On the National Register of Historic Places, Peirce Mill is a living museum and tribute to the 1820s economy of America and D.C.’s agrarian past. Despite changes over time, the sturdy exterior and interior retain the authentic appearance and atmosphere of a 19th century grist mill, with 170 year-old stone walls, authentic wooden milling machinery, hand-hewn beams and columns, and heavy oak floor boards.
Visitors to the mill can augment their authentic historic experience with a mobile app from TourSphere, providing a richer tour of the old mill. An interactive map of the site allows visitors to get a real-time read on their location and see everything the mill has to offer. Clicking on any of the sites, immediately calls up the appropriate tour features. This feature ensures engagement of the visitor and that visitors won’t miss areas they’re not aware of. It also allows the app creator to cross-promote local partners and other sites of interest.
At any of the stops along the tour, the mobile app provides history, background and insight that’s not apparent simply by visiting the site. Some stops add multimedia with archival photos. A mobile app provides a more flexible and economical solution to displaying these types of artifacts than presenting them at the site itself.
Custom to the Peirce Mill tour, a hand-drawn interactive diagram of the mill allows the user to touch each component and learn how it works, providing more insight into the history of the site as part of the agrarian economy.
Finally, the Peirce Mill app allows the museum to increase engagement even further with information in its mobile app about school programs, activities to do on the mill site (like picnicking and hiking), and an interactive survey that provides real-time information to the museum about its visitors’ preferences and experiences.