Round 1 to preservation in Gettysburg tiff

    The fate of a building on the Gettysburg battlefield is up for grabs in federal court. The case pits 19th-century history buffs against 20th-century architecture preservationists. Score round one for the preservationists. .

    The fate of a building on the Gettysburg battlefield is up for grabs in federal court. The case pits 19th-century history buffs against 20th-century architecture preservationists. Score round one for the preservationists. .

    A museum designed by the modernist architect Richard Neutra sits empty today on the battlefield.

    The National Park Service wants to tear down the 1960s-vintage building that once housed the famous cyclorama painting of Pickett’s charge.

    The goal: Make the land look more like it did on July 3, 1863, date of the fateful attack. But architectural preservationists have won a key court ruling in their bid to save the buiding, arguing that it’s an important piece of 20th century architecture.

    The key point: the National Park Service never completed an environmental impact report on the proposed demolition.

    Ken Gavin is an historian and Civil War battle re-enactor. He’d like the building to be razed.

    Gavin:  “We can’t preserve everythying out there – as much as we’d love to: everything comes together to tell the story of who we are. But to my mind the battle of Gettysburg in 1863 takes historical precedence over the architecture. In our national story restoring the ground is more important.”

    The lawyer for the preservationists says they’re open to moving the building to another location. 

    Matthew Adams, a lawyer representing the Recent Past Preservation Network, says his client tried to work out a compromise.

    Adams: “That didn’t happen in this case. For many years we tried hard to get Park Service’s attention, and that these incompatible interests could be accommodated, and frankly they told us to take a hike. This litigation was a last resort.”

    The National Park Service has not decided its next step.  It could appeal the ruling.

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