Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg

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Cyclorama Building
Gettysburg Cyclorama Building.jpg
Cyclorama Building in Zeigler's Grove
Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg is located in Pennsylvania
Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg
General information
Architectural styleModernist (Mission 66)
LocationZeigler's Grove
Address125 Taneytown Road[1]
Gettysburg Battlefield
Town or cityGettysburg, Pennsylvania
CountryUnited States
Coordinates39°48′56.8″N 77°14′2.9″W / 39.815778°N 77.234139°W / 39.815778; -77.234139
Construction started1958
InauguratedNovember 19, 1962
DemolishedMarch 8–9, 2013
OwnerGettysburg National Military Park
Design and construction
Architect(s)Richard Neutra
Main contractorOrndorff Construction Company, Inc.

The Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg was a historic modernist concrete and glass Mission 66 building dedicated November 19, 1962[3] by the National Park Service (NPS) to serve as a Gettysburg Battlefield visitor center, to exhibit the 1883 Paul Philippoteaux Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama and other artifacts, and to provide an observation deck (replacing the 1896 Zeigler's Grove observation tower[4]). The building was demolished in 2013.


Richard Neutra was awarded the design, and began work in 1958. The design included a central park administration office, space for the cyclorama painting previously held remotely at Baltimore Road, and an auditorium that opened out onto the adjoining lawn.[5] Neutra subtitled the building "the Abraham Lincoln Shrine of the Nation."[6] Orndorff Construction Company, Inc., won the construction contract with a bid of $687,349, in 1959.[7] The site at Ziegler's Grove was intended to tie the painting closely to the battle location it depicted.[8] The total construction cost was $959,603.[9] The building was dedicated on November 19, 1962, the 99th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.[10]

Toward the end of the 20th-century attitudes towards battlefield presentation had changed, and the National Park Service sought to remove many modern structures from key sites.[8] In 1977, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation recommended that the Cyclorama Building be relocated to a less central portion of the battlefield.[11] Funding requests to rehabilitate the Cyclorama Building were denied in 1993 and 1996, i.e., $2.7M in 1993 for roof removal/replacement, asbestos ceiling removal, patching cracks and treating masonry, and redesign of interior.[12]: 126  But, in 1998, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places noted that the building possessed "exceptional historic and architectural significance,"[13] making the determination that the "Cyclorama Building was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places," reversing conclusions by the National Park Service in December 1995 and the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer in May 1996.[12]: 118  In 1999, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts opposed its demolition.[12]: 126  During this time, Dion Neutra, the architect’s son (who worked on the design) launched a preservation campaign that generated more than a thousand letters of support. Frank Gehry wrote that Neutra’s building “reflects the highest ideals of his own time, and deserves the highest appreciation of ours.” The American Institute of Architects described the Cyclorama as “one of the most important buildings constructed by the [Park Service] during the 20th century.”[14]

In 2005, the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting was removed from the building for restoration (it would be relocated to the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center in 2007), and the Cyclorama Building was closed to the public.[15]

After the building was not added to the National Register of Historic Places,[16] in 2010, a U.S. District court judge ruled for the Recent Past Preservation Network (Plaintiff) that the NPS "had failed to comply with federal law requiring it to analyze the effect of the Cyclorama Center demolition and come up with alternatives to destroying it."[17]

The Neutra Cyclorama in 2011

In August 2012, the court-ordered NPS study concluded that "the best course of action would be to demolish the Cyclorama Building that has stood in the park for 50 years."[18] In January 2013, the Park Service announced plans to demolish the building during the winter of 2013.[19] In February 2013, there was a protest.[20]

In March 2013, the building was demolished.[21][22] The National Trust for Historic Preservation cited the Cyclorama Building as one of ten historic sites lost in 2013.[23]


  1. ^ "Cyclorama Building, 125 Taneytown Road, Gettysburg vicinity, Adams, PA". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2011-01-25.
  2. ^ "Pennsylvania: New Visitor Center & Museum Complex (Gettysburg National Military Park)". Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2011-01-24. The Keeper determined that the [Cyclorama Building] property, built between 1958 and 1962, is exceptionally significant
  3. ^ Unrau, Harlan D (1991). administrative history, Gettysburg National Military Park (PDF) (Report). Denver, CO: National Park Service. OCLC 24228617. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  4. ^ "Steel Tower at Zeigler's Grove Razed". Gettysburg Times. July 25, 1961. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  5. ^ "Visitor Center and Cyclorama Building". National Park Service. Archived from the original on 10 July 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Who Chooses History?". Los Angeles Times. 27 June 2004.
  7. ^ "Completing the Visitor Center". National Park Service. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  8. ^ a b Owens, Mitchell (January 25, 2013). "Richard Neutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama to be Demolished". Architectural Digest.
  9. ^ "Who Chooses History?". Los Angeles Times. 27 June 2004.
  10. ^ "Who Chooses History?". Los Angeles Times. 27 June 2004.
  11. ^ "Who Chooses History?". Los Angeles Times. 27 June 2004.
  12. ^ a b c Oversight hearing on Gettysburg National Park general management (Report). United States Congress House Committee on Resources, Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  13. ^ "Cyclorama Richard Neutra's 1961 Lincoln Memorial at Gettysburg." Archived 2007-07-05 at the Wayback Machine reCyclorama June 7, 2007.
  14. ^ "Who Chooses History?". Los Angeles Times. 27 June 2004.
  15. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (January 10, 2013). "Old Gettysburg Cyclorama Building, which once housed famous painting, to be razed". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 12, 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  16. ^ "Section 106 Case Report, Cyclorama Building, Gettysburg National Military Park". reCyclorama. January 1999. Archived from the original (reprint) on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-01-25. ----[webpage quote regarding "urging of the National Park Service goes here]-----
  17. ^ Amy Worden (April 5, 2010). "L.A. architect wins battle at Gettysburg". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ [dead link]The Associated Press (August 29, 2012). "NPS says demolish Gettysburg Cyclorama Building". Sacramento Bee.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (January 10, 2013). "Old Gettysburg Cyclorama Building, which once housed famous painting, to be razed". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  20. ^ Weaver, Stephanie (2013-02-25). "Protesters: Keep Cyclorama Building". Archived from the original on 28 February 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  21. ^ Worden, Amy (March 12, 2013). "Gettysburg's Cyclorama Building is no more". Philadelphia Inquirer.
  22. ^ Stansbury, Amy (March 9, 2013). "The death of the Gettysburg Cyclorama Building". The Evening Sun. Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  23. ^ staff (January 5, 2014). "A look at 10 historic sites saved, 10 lost in 2013". Associated Press as reported by the Post Crescent. p. F3.

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