The Town of Gettysburg
Gettysburg Travel Blog› entry 8 of 24 › view all entries
We started the day with breakfast at the hotel. The Hilton Garden Inn charges extra for breakfast, but it was worthwhile, with an individually prepared omelete to fortify us. Time now for more sightseeing!
First on the day's agenda was a visit to the Eisenhower National Historic Site. The Eisenhower farm was the home of Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower from 1950 onward. (Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States and had been Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II.) The Farm can be reached only via a shuttle bus from the Gettysburg Battlefield visitor center. We bought our timed tickets there for the 11:00 a.m. departure. Spending time in the museum shop was a good way to pass time until the farm tour.
The shuttle dropped visitors off inside the property. A tour of the immediate gounds and the house was first, with free time afterwards to roam. The Eisenhowers had essentially built a new house beginning in 1950. The original farmhouse had deteriorated beyond repair, but a small section was preserved and integrated into the new house. We toured several rooms in house: living room, enclosed porch, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, study, and den. A large dairy barn next to the house was converted for use as a garage, stables, and the Secret Service office. I liked all the 1960s artifacts used by the Eisenhowers. This made it a different sort of historic house. As a Baby Boomer, I could recognize many of the objects that had been in daily use. They were also collectors and many gifts and "travel trophies" were on display.
There was still much to see aroudn Gettysburg. Our next stop was the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The cemetery is the place of burial for Union soldiers killed in the battle. (Remains of Confederate soldiers were recovered in the 1870s. Most were interred in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.) The national cemetery was located next to Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery. Local attorney David Wills was comissioned to oversee its design and construction. Graves are arranged by state in a semicircular pattern facing the Soldier's National Monument. At the dedication in November 1863, only four months after the battle, Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, succiently stating the aims of the Civil War and the meaning of the battle.
The parking lot for visitors to the cemetery was the main parking lot for the old visitor center that closed in 2008. Controversy surrounds the Cyclorama Building as it was called. It is a work of modern architecture designed by Richard Neutra in 1960. Battlefield preservationists complained the modern design was out of place at Gettysburg and that the building sat on part of the battlefield itself. They want it to be demolished. Architectural preservations counter that it is one of Neutra's best public building designs. (A park ranger seemed suspicious as I took photos of it and assured me it would soon be gone.)
Susan and I had lunch at the Farnsworth Inn.
Folowing lunch we visited the David Wills House downtown on Lincoln Square. This is a new National Park Service exhibit featuring the house where Lincoln stayed when he came to give the Address. It's also an interpretive center for the Address. Just down the street is the former railroad station where Lincoln arrived. The Italianate style station must really have stood out in town in the 1860s. It has been preserved and is open as a museum.