York Town Square

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Civil War 150th Road Show to park in York, Pa.’s, Penn Park

The Civil War Road Show, pictured here, will roll into York Friday through Sunday and park at Penn Park. It’s the highlight of many free Civil War activities starting with Jean Hershner’s presentation on “The Cartridge Box,” the Union Army’s hospital. The military hospital operated at the park from 1862 to 1865. (See post card image of the park below.) Also of interest: A really big shew. Road Show at Penn Park to highlight most engaging York County, Pa., Civil War observance in memory and Civil War affected women in York County – and vice versa and Isabel Small led procession of women who made wreath for Abe Lincoln’s coffin and Samuel Small tops York, Pa. community contributor list.

A York, Pa., Daily Record/Sunday News story (8/14/11) on the upcoming Civil War Road Show reveals plans to give the park a rebirth.
It’s an interesting thought that a park that has played host to so much of York’s history faced rehabbing so it can become part of the city’s renaissance.
And the park’s Civil War history is being seen as the launch pad for these planned improvements.
The story, “York officials: Traveling Civil War museum first of many new programs for Penn Park,” is excerpted here:

When a giant traveling museum dedicated to the Civil War hits town next weekend, it will reside in Penn Park — a place with a heritage as divided as the country was during the 1860s.
On the one side of history is Penn Common — home to a hospital during the Civil War, a mustering site for soldiers and once the flowering garden spot of the city.
On the opposing side is Penn Park. On Jan. 31, 2010, a 16-year-old bled to death after he was stabbed in Penn Park. Another youth was fatally beaten near there in 1994.
Now, city officials are trying to build a new history for the postage stamp of grass and tennis and basketball courts, in part by embracing the story of Penn Common.
On Aug. 19, a tractor trailer ferrying the Pennsylvania Civil War 150 Road show will roll into Penn Park, its home for four days.
“We wanted to reach out to a less common audience,” said Dan Roe, education director at the York County Heritage Trust. The group was instrumental in making York a stop on the tour.
“York City is doing a lot to break the stigma” surrounding Penn Park, he said.
And despite recent dents to its reputation and having fallen into disrepair, the place is one of the most historic on the local map — dating back to the founding of York as a village through its role as a mustering point for soldiers from the Revolutionary War to World War II.
It also served as the site of Penn Hospital during the Civil War.
Part of the road show will include information about the hospital, including a map showing where the hospital buildings once stood, Roe said.
Getting the 80,000-pound display into Penn Park will present a small logistical challenge, Roe said, but basically involves fitting a tractor trailer into the space.
When unfolded, the display features four arcades, each focusing on a different facet of the war, from the soldiers themselves to home life during the 1860s. Visitors can record a 90-second audio recording of themselves talking about their visit, Roe said.
The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, a group of Civil War reenactors, will camp in the park overnight.
Corey Strathmeyer of the YMCA hopes the road show becomes part of a new trend for Penn Park. Various city improvement groups have developed a plan to return Penn Park to its former glory.
“We want more activity in the park,” Strathmeyer said. “We want to drive out the negative behavior.”
In 2012, York will make its first step to a new Penn Park when Bring on Play kicks off a $600,000 new playground project on the site. Workers will strip out old playground equipment to make way for new stuff, including a “splash pad” — a fountain kids can enter, said Joe Stein, Bring on Play’s chairman.
The overall plan for the park, initially developed two years ago by the York County Community Foundation, will cost between $5 and $6 million, Stein said.
It will include a “living stage,” said Strathmeyer, a terraced pavilion for plays and weddings. It will include a separate building for preparations.
In that building, Strathmeyer said, will be a museum noting the history of the park.
“We’re hoping this makes a big impact on the city,” Strathmeyer said.

If you go
What: Pennsylvania Civil War 150 Road Show
Where: Penn Park, 100 W. College Ave., York
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19-21
Cost: Free
Parking: Available at William Penn Senior High School, 101 W. College Ave., York
Details: The exhibit is ADA compliant. For more details, visit pacivilwar150.com
Related events
Aug. 18
— Book discussion “Civil War Voices of York County: Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign”. Scott Mingus and I will present at 7 p.m., Historical Society Museum, 250 E. Market St., York.

Aug. 19

— York College of Pennsylvania Civil War Panel discussion “On the Brink of Freedom: The Politics of Slavery, Secession and War,” 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., York College, Film Viewing Room, Humanities 218.
— Period music by Matt Dodd, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with formal performance at noon, Penn Park
— Performances and interpretations by Pennsylvania Past Players, Penn Park
—Victorian Teaching Ball with the Civil War Dance Ensemble featuring live music by the Susquehanna Travellers, 7 to 9 p.m. Historical Society Museum. The event is free, but registration is required by calling 848-1587 ext. 301.
Aug. 20
— Places Through Time Living History presents “All Things Victorian,” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with formal presentations at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Agricultural and Industrial Museum, 217 W. Princess St., York.
— “Gone With the Wind,” 6 p.m., Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St. Tickets $7. For details call 846-1111.
Aug. 21
— Richard Pawling of History Alive presents “Levi Bull Smith” a first-person performance, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the lobby of the Agricultural & Industrial Museum. On-site at Penn Park 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.
— Dr. John Quist, professor of history at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania presents “John Brown’s Raid of Harper’s Ferry and Escape of Osborne Perry Anderson,” 3 p.m. Agricultural and Industrial Museum.
— 87th Pennsylvania Re-enactors, 151st Pennsylvania Volunteer Re-enactors, 42nd Mississippi Co. I Re-enactors and the Civilian Corps Of Gettysburg will share firing/tactical demonstrations, artillery displays, music, period medicine, clothing, leisure activities and roles throughout the day at Penn Park.
Also of interest
Here are some links that provide details about the 150th trailer and surrounding activities:
Road show’s Pa. schedule
Road show’s main site
Local events supplementing road show
A video showing the size of the road show.
Local voices of the Civil War
Read Yorkblogger Scott Mingus’ post of the Civil War Road Show.
All York Town Square Civil War posts from the start.

In this postcard view, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Penn Park stands sentry across from the old York High School, later Hannah Penn Junior High School and still later demolished to make way for a parking lot.

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*Photo courtesy of Scott Mingus’ Cannonball blog.