Park Service Holds Off On Cyclorama Demolition Pending Court Decision, Scot Andrew Pitzer, Gettysburg Times, Wednesday, November 5, 2008.
A compromise has been reached in the planned razing of the former Cyclorama building at Gettysburg National Military Park.The park has decided that “no demolition of the building will take place,” pending the resolution of a two-year-old lawsuit to save the building. “During this time, the National Park Service will solicit bids for demolition of the Cyclorama building and the former visitor center, and plans to undertake the demolition of the former visitor center,” U.S. Dept. of Justice attorney Samantha Klein wrote in a Nov. 3 letter to U.S. District Court. “However, the National Park Service will inform all potential bidders...that no demolition of the Cyclorama Building take place prior to the district court’s ruling on the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment.”
A Virginia based agency, The Recent Past Preservation Network, and the son of the architect who designed the building — Dion Neutra — filed a suit to save the structure. The park, meanwhile, intends to tear it down and restore that portion of the Gettysburg Battlefield to its 1863 appearance. In a court hearing last week in Washington, D.C., a federal judge ordered the park to notify the court whether it planned to proceed with plans to demolish the building. Park officials had announced that they wanted to solicit bids this month, and begin demolition shortly thereafter. U.S. District Court Judge Alan Kay said that a decision on the lawsuit probably won’t be made until December.
Kay heard motions for a summary judgment, a legal term meaning that a judge rules on a case without it going to a full trial. He plans to file a recommendation with acting Judge Thomas F. Hogan, but doubted that paperwork would be filed until mid-December. The old Cyclorama building is located atop Ziegler’s Grove with the former park visitor center, built atop land that was home to fierce fighting during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Previously, the cylindrical building had housed a famous painting of Pickett’s Charge, but the artwork was moved to a new $103 million visitor center located about one mile away. Both the former visitor center and the old Cyclorama closed in April when the new visitor center opened. The Recent Past Preservation group believes that the building can be relocated to another property in Gettysburg, and that it could be used as a museum or theater. Preliminary conversations have been held between the group and Gettysburg area businessmen Eric Uberman and Bob Monahan Jr., about potential new sites for the building.
“The Park Service never looked at an alternative to demolition in how to remove the building,” said Recent Past Preservation attorney Nicholas Yost. Government officials said that the building is outdated, that it has undergone 30 repairs since the 1960s, and that the goal is to recreate that area of the battlefield to its Civil War appearance. According to historians, 900 soldiers fought there during Pickett’s Charge, in what is dubbed The High Water Mark of the Confederacy. Also, the park has questioned the validity of the lawsuit, filed in December 2006. The six-year statute of limitations began in 1999, the park said, when it adopted its General Management Plan, and expired in 2005.
Text Source: Gettysburg Times, November 5, 2008.
Image Source: Flickr