Place attachment and the historic brewpub: a case study in Greensboro, North Carolina

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dana L. Rojak (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Laura Cole

Abstract: Over the last couple decades, brewpubs have emerged as a cultural phenomenon uniquely positioned to tie together downtown revitalization, historic preservation, and community connections to local place. A common strategy for the locally-owned brewpub is to incorporate historic place into the business brand while simultaneously inhabiting buildings in historic downtowns. Brewpub owners are therefore making calculated decisions about the physical environment of the pub. This study seeks to understand how the benefits of historic preservation in brewpubs can extend beyond tax incentives to include positive social outcomes. In particular, the work here explores the types of attachments patrons may form to historic brewpub environments with an emphasis on the role of the physical built environment. Attachment to place in this study is understood through the lens of the PPP framework of place that emphasizes a multi-dimensional concept involving person, place, and process (Gifford and Scannell , 2010). This project involves a mixed-methods research design at a single case study site in Greensboro, NC. Natty Greene's Brewing Company is located along the main thoroughfare of historic downtown Greensboro. This brewpub's integral role in downtown revitalization and participation in a Historic Tax Credit-earning rehabilitation project make it a unique exemplar, and especially well-suited for research on place attachment in historic brewpub settings. Data were collected through a structured online survey (n=78) followed by a photography activity (n=7) that was more qualitative in nature. The survey results revealed that attachment to the physical environment along with customer satisfaction were among the strongest predictors of overall place attachment. In addition, some meaningful differences in place attachment based on demographic factors such as gender, age group, frequency of visits, and length of residency in Greensboro were shown to exist. The photography project offered a more in-depth view of patron reactions to the built environment of Natty Greene's. Nine major themes emerged from participant photographs, including: symbolic meanings, satisfaction, openness, diversity of social functions, positive reflection on downtown, location, historic feel, materials and textures, and design features. Taken together, the mixture the methodologies employed in this study indicate that designing a historic physical environment in brewpubs is a promising strategy for engendering attachment to place for visitors. In the end, emotional attachment to place matters because of the responses it may inspire. Person-place bonds can motivate the preservation of buildings, the revitalization of a downtown, or loyalty to a local business.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Brewpub, Historic Place, Place Attachment
Microbreweries $z North Carolina $z Greensboro $v Case studies
Brewing industry $z North Carolina $z Greensboro $v Case studies
Place attachment $v Case studies

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