Friday, January 09, 2009

News: At Auction, Gettysburg's First Day Battlefield Gets No Bids; Banks Needs $7 Million

The following are three reports (January 9 post auction,, January 9 before auction, January 8).

Bank Retains Gettysburg Country Club, Evening Sun Oline, January 9, 2009

Susquehanna Banks will likely take steps to sell the 120-acre club, said Eugene Pepinsky, the bank's attorney. "Banks don't operate golf courses," he said. No bids were made on the 120-acre club, though several dozen people attended the auction.

Gettysburg Country Club Comes With Debt Hazard, Erin James, Evening Sun, January 9, 2009.

Whoever buys the Gettysburg Country Club today will be acquiring more than a nine-hole golf course. After falling into financial distress last year, the 60-year-old country club racked up a total of more than $3.6 million in debt. The debts range from tax liens to municipal liens to unpaid bank mortgages.

The 120-acre property is being auctioned off at a sheriff's sale this morning for a minimum of $2.9 million. "I suspect it will probably be in excess of that in order to get all the costs involved," said Deputy Michael Cook at the Adams County Sheriff's Office, which is facilitating the auction.

That's because the buyer will be responsible for all of the country club's outstanding expenses, meaning the country club could ultimately cost no less than $6.5 million. A large portion of the debts the Gettysburg Country Club has incurred likely stem from a significant renovation in 2006 that included the building of a conference room that seats 70, a ballroom that hosts 250 and a pub that holds 60.

Tennis courts, pools and other facilities were also added, and the members-only club reopened in spring 2007. For example, the club owes the Gettysburg Construction Company $45,120. That's pocket change, however, compared to the debt owed to Susquehanna Banks, which foreclosed on the property. Gettysburg Country Club owes the bank at least $2.9 million. Other debts include $48,784 to the IRS, $11,687 to the Cumberland Township

Authority, $26,661 to Sysco Food Services, $105,998 to Vend Lease Company, $217,890 to the Baltimore Savings Bank, $55,318 to C.E. Williams Sons, $58,977 to the Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, $17,506 to the Gettysburg Municipal Authority and $85,658 to VGM Financial Services. Gettysburg Country Club is located within the boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park and was the site of significant action during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Cook said the country club's buyer will need to provide 20 percent of the property's price at the auction and the balance within a few weeks. The auction is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Adams County Sheriff's Office.

Battlefield Not A Buyer For Country Club, Erin James, Evening Sun, January 8, 2009.

Bank retains Gettysburg Country ClubGettysburg Country club comes with debt hazard
For sale: A historic war zone, where some of the Battle of Gettysburg's "bloodiest" fighting took place. The 120-acre property comes complete with a nine-hole golf course, new clubhouse and a legacy rivaled only by the battlefield's more famous areas.

At least one party is interested in the Gettysburg Country Club, which after falling into financial distress last year will be auctioned off at 10 a.m. Friday at the Adams County Sheriff's Office. But Gettysburg National Military Park won't be placing any bids on the property.

Though it is within the park's Congressionally designated 6,000-acre boundary, Gettysburg Country Club is privately owned - which means the park has virtually no say over what the current or new owner does with the land. Park officials had been in discussions with owners of the Gettysburg Country Club, 730 Chambersburg Road, about purchasing a conservation easement on the property that would protect it from future development, park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon said.

But those conversations went nowhere, and the park abandoned its efforts to secure an easement through the property's current owners. Assuming that a third party purchases the Gettysburg Country Club Friday, Lawhon said the park would revisit the possibility of an easement.

"We would be interested in talking to new owners about it as well," she said. Because of its significance to the battle, the club's 120 acres are named a "high priority" on a list of potential land acquisitions compiled by the Park Service in 1993. "Quite a bit happened out there," said Scott Hartwig, supervisory historian at Gettysburg National Military Park.

On the morning of July 1, 1863, Union Brig. Gen. John Buford's cavalry moved across the area that is now the Gettysburg Country Club and dismounted on Herr's Ridge. Confederate infantry under Gen. Henry Heth drove Buford's cavalry off Herr's Ridge and back across the golf course property to McPherson's Ridge. Later in the day, in pursuit of Buford's retreating cavalry, 1,100 Confederate infantrymen under Gen. James Archer were advancing across golf course property when they were attacked by the famed Iron Brigade. "They were surprised because they didn't anticipate to run into any Union infantry," Hartwig said. It was there that Archer became the first Confederate general captured by Union forces since Robert E. Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

"Archer is probably captured near where some of the buildings associated with some of the country club are today," Hartwig said. By the late morning or early afternoon, the Iron Brigade fell back to a defensive position in Herbst Woods on the west bank of Willoughby Run, along McPherson's Ridge. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country club property, Confederate forces of Gen. Heth's division were forming a strong battle line in preparation for an afternoon attack.

What happened next bears similarities to the infamous Pickett's Charge attack that essentially annihilated Confederate forces in Gettysburg. "In a sense, this is the same thing on a much smaller scale," Hartwig said.

With some 3,000 men, Confederate Gen. James Pettigrew's North Carolina brigade advanced across the country club property and attacked the Iron Brigade. The North Carolinians came under heavy fire before they reached Willoughby Run, suffering heavy casualties on present country club property. They fought their way across the creek to ground that is now part of the national park and eventually drove the Iron Brigade back.

"That fighting there is man for man, probably the bloodiest fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg," Hartwig said. When the fighting was over, the Iron Brigade had lost 1,200 of 1,800 men. Pettigrew's brigade lost close to 1,100. Tomorrow's auction is open to the public. Susquehanna Banks, which foreclosed on the property, is asking for a minimum of $2.9 million.

Source for all text: Evening Sun newspaper

Source for Images: Gettysburg NMP

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