Saturday, April 19, 2008

Farewell, Old Friend

A lot has been made in the Civil War community this past week about the opening of the new Visitor's Center here in Gettysburg, and rightly so. But while reading all the news, reviews, and testimonials of the new complex, I could not help but feel just a little bit sad that the old building has been so quickly--and so thoroughly--forgotten. The old center, built in 1921, has been welcoming folks to Gettysburg for well over 80 years. Having been through the building scores of times over the past twenty or so years, I cannot rave about the new place without first paying hommage to the old. So, with camera in hand, I ventured down to the now quiet center and snapped a few pictures. . .one last time, before the walls come tumbling down and the building becomes just a distant memory.

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It was an eerie sight, and all was silence. I never thought that on a gorgeous spring day, this parking lot would be completely empty. . .something I have never seen before.
No buses, no RV's, no trucks with Confederate flag bumper stickers. . .not even a single middle schooler hanging out on the steps or crowding the entrances to the bathrooms.
Even the steps to the rear of the building are shut down. . .
Out front, along the Emmitsburg Road/Steinwehr Avenue entrance, the park service sign is now gone and Old Glory missing from the flagpole. . .
Gone too are those big brown signs that for decades told motorists to "enter here". . .
So, farewell, old friend. . .you served us well and you will be missed. By the end of next year, you'll be gone. And someday I can tell my kids, "You know, when I was your age, the visitor center was the up the roads a way. . .right across from the National Cemetery."

A sign on the front door instructs us to move on to the new place. . .But most of us already have.


Anonymous said...

Very nice post ... I've been there many times myself. Will be odd to see it gone. Thanks!

dismantledarmadillo said...

Hi :o) Been lurking here for some time but I don't think I've ever commented.
Thank you so much for posting the pictures of the former visitors center. It is indeed surreal to see it as a complete ghost town.
I was last in the museum this past summer and honestly did little more than zip in for some pamphlet or another and a trip around the bookstore. I'm almost sorry that I didn't take more time. I *knew* it would be my last trip until the new place opened but between the crowds and the heat I was cranky and opted to leave.
I don't know whether I'll make it down (I live near Pittsburgh) before the building is gone so being able to see pictures of it closed but not gone is nice.
Thanks for posting them!

Anonymous said...

Question ... are they going to try and put this area back into it's 1863 appearance and if so, are there photographs or something to guide them as to what it may have looked like back then? Thanks ..