Preparations are now underway for C.E. Williams, a contractor for the nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation, to remove the old Visitor Center parking lot on North Cemetery Ridge in Gettysburg National Military Park. Once the asphalt has been removed, the contractor will regrade the area to its historic profile in 1863, and plant meadow grasses. Historic fencing on the site will be built during the Gettysburg Foundation's "Friends of Gettysburg" annual volunteer day in June.
Since 2009 Gettysburg NMP and the Gettysburg Foundation have been returning key portions of the center of the Union battle line on North Cemetery Ridge to their appearance at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. Completed phases include the demolition of the old visitor center in 2009; planting 41 apple trees to reestablish the Frey orchard (North) in 2010; and demolition of the Cyclorama building in 2013.
"These rehabilitation projects allow us to place more and more puzzle pieces together on the battlefield. They improve integrity of the battlefield landscapes and improve our visitors' understating of what happened at Gettysburg and why it's so important," said Zach Bolitho Acting Superintendent, Gettysburg NMP.
Through the generosity of donors, the Gettysburg Foundation is funding this phase of the project bycovering the cost of general contracting, construction management and design costs which total approximately $400,000. The Foundation also funded the cost of last year's demolition of the Cyclorama building which was $750,000.
Joanne M. Hanley, Gettysburg Foundation President, states, "The Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge areas are central in Gettysburg National Military Park's and the Gettysburg Foundation's efforts to educate millions of visitors about the battle of Gettysburg, the causes and consequences of the American Civil War, and the lasting significance of this critical time in our nation's history. Preservation of this site will forever enhance the interpretive value of this critical portion of the Gettysburg battlefield."
The current phase of the project will begin in February and take approximately two to three months for completion depending on the weather.
The National Cemetery South parking lot, which used to be known as the Cyclorama parking lot will be retained for visitor use. Some modifications to this lot are planned in a future phase of this project.
Additional future phases of the rehabilitation of Cemetery Ridge include reconstructing a commemorative era pathway and moving five monuments to their historic locations. These features were altered during the construction of the Cyclorama building in the early 1960s.
Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park System 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. Information is available at www.nps.gov/gett.
The Gettysburg Foundation is a private, non-profit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg. The Foundation raised funds for and now operates the Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, which opened in April 2008. In addition to operating the Museum and Visitor Center, the Foundation has a broad preservation mission that includes land, monument and artifact preservation and battlefield rehabilitation—all in support of the National Park Service's goals at Gettysburg. Information is available at www.gettysburgfoundation.org.
Did You Know?
Major General George Gordon Meade was appointed to command the Union "Army of the Potomac" just three days before the battle of Gettysburg. He was honored in 1896 with an equestrian statue at Gettysburg National Military Park.