Thursday, January 10, 2013

The End is Near for the Cyclorama

After a long and protracted battle, the fate of the Cyclorama building at Gettysburg National Military Park has been sealed. You can find the press release here.

Of course this issue has been the source of a great deal of controversy over the years. Many consider today a long awaited victory for battlefield preservation. To be honest, I'm not quite sure how I feel. Initially, I jumped on board with plans for demolishing the building and restoring the landscape. I've also seen with my own eyes the incredible interpretive benefits achieved by the Park's landscape rehabilitation projects.

And yet, over the years I've come to see the other side of this controversy too. The NPS is charged with preserving the history of the Battle of Gettysburg, it is true. But the park itself has its own unique history that informs us of our past as a nation, and we should perhaps not be so quick to destroy all of that history in an effort to get back to 1863.

A friend of mine with tremendous experience in the field of historic preservation has helped me to understand the other side to this controversy over the years, and I'm hoping that he will become Battlefield Backstories' first guest-blogger at some point soon to make a case for why destroying the Cyclorama was perhaps not in the best interests of the park. Stay tuned.

What are your thoughts?

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