31 March 2008 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 12 comments

Friday also included my final visit to the decrepit old visitor’s center at Gettysburg. We made a brief stop there, and I took advantage of it to get one last look around the old dump. The place is long past its prime, crowded, dark, dingy, and obsolete. But I’ve spent a lot of time in that building, and it carries some good memories. The place may be a dump, but I will miss it.

The old VC never should have been built where it was, and it will be nice to see that portion of the battlefield restored to its 1863 appearance. The new one looks really nice–it’s quite large, and it looks like it’s going to be a state of the art facility. Time will tell.

But it won’t be the old dump.

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Comments

  1. Tue 01st Apr 2008 at 9:18 am

    This weekend will be my last pass through the old VC. Seeing the place always brings back memories of previous visits and discoveries. While the location of the “crowded, dark, dingy” VC is not keeping with the 1863 appearance, it does place the “casual” visitor within a short walk of a critical portion of the field. I think Antietam is much the same way. I’d prefer the Antietam VC be placed somewhere further southwest of the Dunker Church. But that would require some evictions. On the other hand, visitors can gaze out at South Mountain and about two thirds of the battlefield from the viewing room, even in bad weather. So there is a trade off. …. Food for another blog entry – “Top ten visitors centers for a battlefield.”

  2. Tue 01st Apr 2008 at 10:58 am

    That’s a great idea, Craig. I think I will run with it.

    From what I understand, Antietam is next up to get a new VC.

    Eric

  3. Randy
    Tue 01st Apr 2008 at 10:58 am

    Eric:
    Glad you got a chance to go through the old building once last time. Any idea when it closes for good? I’d like to make one last visit too; I have many fond memories of that place. The new site looks great but I can’t shake this nagging feeling that the experience (not the building, which is obviously much nicer) just won’t be the same somehow. The old building should never have been built where it was, but I’ve still got a soft spot for it. Afterall, it has always been an integral part of my visits to the battlefield and quite honestly, I’ll miss it.

    Randy

  4. Tue 01st Apr 2008 at 11:11 am

    Randy,

    April 13 is D-day. Better hurry…..

    Eric

  5. Tue 01st Apr 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Oh the mark of a true Civil War nut – to be the last person to leave (forcibley) the old Gettysburg Visitor’s Center. And you have to have a bottle of “Old Jubilee” in hand to make it official!

  6. Tue 01st Apr 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I’ll miss the pea green and gray walls in the Electric Map Room. That is where the course of my entire life changed at the age of 6 in 1978. (On a side note, I cannot wait to see the restored Cyclorama. I’m taking 100% advantage of my media credentials to get up close and personal in order to do a cover story on the restoration and new display for the Free Lance-Star in the fall. I’ll be like a giddy schoolgirl to say the least.)

  7. Randy
    Tue 01st Apr 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Eric:

    Have many/most of the old collections already been moved? Unless they are not going to use many of them in the new facility I wouldn’t imagine there’s much left of the familiar collections in the exisiting facility. I’m going to miss the “relic” passageway with the shell-torn barn beams overhead, and of course, the electric map. Don’t suppose the new joint will have all that great 1950’s institutional enamel paint scheme either. I look forward to a great high-tech experience in the new setting, but it’s sure hard to let go of the familiar. Melancholy setting in here!

    Randy

  8. Tue 01st Apr 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Randy,

    I honestly have no idea. I wish I could tell you more.

    Eric

  9. David
    Wed 02nd Apr 2008 at 8:12 am

    What are they going to do with the old building and parking lot?

  10. Wed 02nd Apr 2008 at 10:08 am

    David,

    The building will be razed, and most, if not all, of the parking lots dug up in order to restore the land to its 1863 appearance.

    Eric

  11. Wed 02nd Apr 2008 at 10:55 am

    I agree – poor location and it is a dump (I think better museums using more quality and high tech interaction influence me in this respect), but great memories nonetheless. This is especially the case considering it has been a pivotal stop in my over thirty years of going to the battlefield.

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