Friday, April 24, 2015

'Missing features' will be returned to Cemetery Ridge, Ziegler's Grove at Gettysburg

Ziegler's Grove area before two buildings, upper parking lot removed (NPS)

The campaign to transform a small portion of the Gettysburg battlefield into what it looked like in July 1863 will include reducing the size of a parking lot, re-establishing a ravine that was filled in when the old Cyclorama building was constructed and the relocation of monuments to their original location.

Park officials on Thursday announced $1.3 million will go toward the latest phase of the rehabilitation of Cemetery Ridge and, specifically, Ziegler’s Grove.

“For the first time in more than 50 years, this portion of Cemetery Ridge will have its historic appearance, offering fresh experiences for a new generation of Gettysburg visitors,” said Ed Clark, Gettysburg National Military Park superintendent.

The National Park Service’s $600,000 will work with a $700,000 match from the nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation to lessen the footprint of what park management assistant Katie Lawhon has called “modern intrusions” on the hallowed ground while restoring some historic features.

The foundation previously has said the growth of the town, commercial development and the construction of battlefield buildings that came to be seen as eyesores had a significant impact on the landscape.

“These dramatic changes have hidden the site of important battle action under asphalt parking lots, concrete, brick and non-historic vegetation,” reads a blog post on the foundation’s website. “Thus, it is nearly impossible to visualize today the conditions encountered by over 6,500 soldiers in July 1863. The events that occurred along the western slopes of Cemetery Hill and the northern edge of Cemetery Ridge had a significant impact on the Battle of Gettysburg and, ultimately, the cost of the Civil War.

Monuments will be moved 20 feet to original locations (NPS

Officials knew something had to be done, and Thursday’s announcement is another step in the process.

The NPS demolished the old visitor center in 2009 and the old Cyclorama building in 2013. The visitor center parking lot was removed in 2014. The Cyclorama and visitor center are now combined, southeast of Ziegler’s Grove.

Some of the buildings and infrastructure constructed from the 1930s to the early 1960s came at the expense of historic landscapes. Jim Campi, writing in Hallowed Ground magazine, said this of the now-gone Cyclorama location: “The modern brutalist design of the building, which some equated to an alien spacecraft, ensured its incongruity within the battlefield landscape.”

Lawhon told the Picket said that a parking lot for visitors to Soldiers’ National Cemetery will be reduced, with room for four buses, 54 cars and three spots for disabled drivers.

Monuments that were moved for the construction of the old Cyclorama building will return to their original locations. The project also will rebuild ornamental entrance gates at Hancocke Avenue and Taneytown Road and commemorative walkways. 

Gateway to Hancock Ave. at Taneytown Road will be rebuilt.

Gettysburg Foundation President Joanne M. Hanley said, “The Gettysburg Foundation has contributed to the rehabilitation of Cemetery Ridge since the inception of the idea to bring back missing features of the battlefield landscapes.”

President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the cemetery. This portion of Cemetery Ridge was a crucial part of the Union army’s defense. Ziegler’s Grove is near the modern southern boundary of the town and just northeast of the “High Water Mark” of Pickett’s Charge.

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