Update: The Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg National Military Park

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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6 Responses to Update: The Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg National Military Park

  1. Travis says:

    Why couldn’t they just use this building to house the 1,000s of artifacts that were supposedly promised to be displayed in the new visitor center? That are instead still sitting in storage.

  2. John Nyeste - Denver PA says:

    Like Travis, I’d like to see more of the collection on display. However, I’d like to see those additional items displayed in the new visitor center. The old Cyclorama building does not fit in with the current management philosophy of the GNMP where it is currently located. It’s a shame there was so much damage done to Cemetery Ridge when the building was constructed. Let’s correct the damage as much as possible and learn from the past.

  3. BSteele says:

    I understand that before the Cyclorama building was built, a pit was discovered with many horseshoes(where the horse bodies were taken and burned following the battle). I would like to see a monument to the horse on this site!

    • The Staff says:

      Do you have a source for this story? I have never heard this before. The only horses that might have been dragged to near the Cyclorama Center for burial or buring would be those from Lieutenant Woodruff’s Battery I, 1st U.S. Artillery, as they were the only artillery unit in the vicinity that lost any horses. Horses that were killed in other batteries were typically buried or burned near where they were killed rather than dragged to a more distant location.

      Scott Hartwig

      • Gary says:

        I do so enjoy visiting this site.
        The story about the Cyclorama and the horseshoes was picked up by some newspapers from a quote by Dean Schultz.

  4. Ed Merrell says:

    The historical value of the old Cyclorama building pales in comparison to the historical landscape
    on whichi it sits. Hardly anyone advocates keeping this rotting structure atop hallowed ground over which soldiers North and South gave their “last full measure”. Let’s speed up this process and restore the grove and hilltop in time for Gettysburg’s Sesquicentennial year.

    If there is an EIS or other documents related to this project available for public comment, I would certainly appreciate a copy to consider.

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