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National Park Service discusses status of old Cyclorama Building

The Gettysburg National Military Park’s Management Assistant, Katie Lawhon, passed along a link to a recent posting on the park’s blog, From the Fields of Gettysburg, concerning the current status and plans for the now abandoned Cyclorama building.

Here is her post:

Gettysburg National Military Park (NMP) is continuing to prepare a document called the Cyclorama Building environmental assessment.  We have contracted with consultants at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) to further analyze the information received during the public scoping process in the fall of 2010.  A team of park staff and specialists from the National Park Service (NPS) Northeast Region and Washington offices are working closely with VHB to refine the alternatives.

The planning process is considering a range of alternatives including: keeping the building in its current site and “mothballing” it; reusing the building in its current site; relocating the building to a new site; and demolishing the building to return the area to its appearance at the time of the fighting of this pivotal Civil War battle in July 1863.

These alternatives will be included in the environmental assessment which will be available for public review and comment in early 2012.  The document will identify the NPS’s preferred alternative.

In preparing the environmental assessment, the park is responding to a March 2010 decision of the United States District Court directing the NPS to undertake a “site-specific environmental analysis on the demolition of the Cyclorama” building and to consider “non-demolition alternatives” to its removal before “any implementing action is taken” on the building.

An environmental assessment is a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document which will describe and evaluate alternatives regarding the future of the Gettysburg Cyclorama building, a National Register eligible structure located on North Cemetery Ridge on the Gettysburg battlefield.

The 1962 Cyclorama building was designed by noted architect Richard Neutra and was constructed on North Cemetery Ridge, an area of the Gettysburg battlefield where major battle action occurred.

In 1999, the NPS approved a General Management Plan for Gettysburg NMP that called for (among numerous other actions) the demolition of the Cyclorama building in order to provide for the long-term preservation of the Cyclorama painting (a National Historic Object) and the rehabilitation of the historic landscapes of the battlefield.  During the general management planning process the NPS consulted with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer, the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, numerous interested parties, and the public.

The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer and the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation both approved the demolition of the building in order to rehabilitate the 1863 battlefield, as did the majority of the public comments received.

Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service that preserves and protects the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and provides an understanding of the events that occurred there within the context of American history.

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant

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Jim McClure and I will be holding our final book signing of 2011 at Irvin’s Books in West York this upcoming Thursday night. Here is your last chance to purchase jointly signed, autographed books as Christmas gifts for that Civil War buff on your shopping list. The book is filled with stories from dozens and dozens of long-time York County families, including but certainly not limited to Spangler, Small, Moul, Latimer, Bratton, Rebert, Smith, Miller, Roland, Gladfelter, Ilgenfritz, Fisher, Snyder, Hoffman, Bixler, Schultz, Menges (my ancestral spelling of my surname), and many, many others!