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What Should Gettysburg National Military Park Do With Its Empty Cyclorama Building?


To demolish, or not demolish. That is the question being pondered by officials at Gettysburg National Military Park over their empty Cyclorama building.

Originally, park officials were planning to tear down the structure, which became somewhat obsolete after the Cyclorama painting -- an elaborate depiction of Pickett's Charge up Cemetery Ridge -- was moved to the park's new visitor center. But then a federal court ordered the park to consider other alternatives for the building, which was built on North Cemetery Ridge in 1962 and is eligible for listing on the National Register.

There will be two open houses for the public to weigh in on this decision as the park moves forward with an environmental assessment examining the building's future. The meetings -- to be held in the classroom at the park Museum and Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg -- are scheduled for September 16 and 17. The first session will be on September 16 at 7:00 p.m. Another session will be held on September 17, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Information about the planning process soon will be available for review at this site.

The Cyclorama building was designed by noted architect Richard Neutra and was constructed on 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 so as 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 Park Service 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.

The current planning process will consider 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.

"We respectfully request the public’s thoughtful evaluation and comments on these questions: 1) What are the planning issues we should be thinking about?; 2) What are the alternatives we should be considering?; 3) What are the important impacts we should be evaluating?" said Gettysburg Superintendent Bob Kirby. "Comments would be most useful if we can receive them by October 1, 2010,"

Comments may be submitted by regular mail to: Superintendent, Gettysburg National Military Park, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100, Gettysburg, PA 17325; via the Internet at, click on "Management" and then click on "Public Involvement" or at; e-mail us or by fax to 717/ 334-1891, attn: Cyclorama building.

For more information or questions concerning the planning process, please contact park management assistant Katie Lawhon at 717/ 334-1124 x 3121.


Maybe I missed something - but what were the arguments for keeping the building? Some building built in the 60's to hold a painting since removed hardly seems historic - especially in relation to the ground it is sitting on.

The building was built to house the cyclorama? The painting is now gone. I've been in the building and fail to see where it qualifies for any sort of historic standing. Tear it down.

I feel that the history of the place far out weighs the architectural history of the building. The grounds and adjacent parking lots should be restored to the 1863 appearance of Ziegler's Grove. If a group wants the building then THEY should pay for the moving of it not the tax payers.

First time I saw that building I wondered why a holding tank from a wastewater treatment facility had been placed on the battlefield.

The only historic thing is the land, not the building. Tear it down.

“Renovate the building and install several hundred slot machines………… Give the new Casino some Competition” ;o))

How many dollars would it bring to NPS?

Semper Fi

Although the idea of preserving the building is a valid one and deserves some debate I feel that the core issue should be the restoration of the battlefield to its 1863 condition. Standing on the battlefield and being able to visualize those days in July of 1863 would be much more satisying with fewer obstructions.

Let me get this right: demolition has been held up because the Cyclorama Building "is eligible for listing on the National Register". Under this rationale if a building has been around long enough, that should outweigh the reason for Gettysburg National Military Park. If this is the case, some monstrosity could be built today at Gettysburg and have National Register eligibility if it stays around long enough and, as such, we should change the name of of Gettysburg NMP to Old Building National Historic site.

Gettysburg NMP exists for visitors to understand what went on there during the Battle of Gettysburg. The building that housed the cyclorama no longer fulfills that purpose. Having an unnecessary building there, regardless of whether it is eligible for National Register listing, detracts from the reason that there is a Gettysburg NMP.

The building should be demolished, unless a preservation group wishes to move the building at that group's expense. Said group should be given a finite time period with which to accompany that goal -- no excuses and no extensions.

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