General Lee's headquarters to get restoration
General Lee's headquarters to get restoration This recently restored home of Mary Thompson in Gettysburg, Pa., served as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s headquarters at Gettysburg, seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy Jacobsen)
General Lee's headquarters to get restoration
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Over the decades, the stone house and grounds that served as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's headquarters at Gettysburg sprouted a motel, restaurant and other modern structures. It dismayed preservationists and Civil War buffs keen on historic authenticity.
 
Now, after a $6 million restoration that erased decades of development at the 4-acre site, the property in Pennsylvania looks much as it did in July 1863. That is when Lee suffered defeat in a bloody three-day battle. It turned the tide of the war.
 
"If Robert E. Lee would ride up tomorrow, he would recognize his headquarters. And for over 100 years that wasn't the case," said James Lighthizer. He is president of Civil War Trust. It is the nonprofit that bought the house and grounds from private owners. Then the trust completed the restoration.
 
The site now includes a walking trail and interpretive signage. Plans call for the property to be turned over to the National Park Service.
 
The area around the circa-1830s house was the scene of heavy fighting on the battle's first day. Its strategic location was atop Seminary Ridge. That made it an ideal spot for Lee's battlefield headquarters.
 
"He's dictating and writing a lot of orders. He's using that as a base from which to observe the enemy. And he is responding to crises and events as they occur," said Garry Adelman, Civil War Trust's director of history and education.
 
The occupant, a widow named Mary Thompson, is believed to have remained in the home during the battle. She lived there until her death in 1873.
 
The home was left out of Gettysburg National Military Park. It was gutted by fire in the late 1890s. By 1921, it had become General Lee's Headquarters Museum. The museum was a commercial venture that transformed the surrounding property.
 
"Without question, this was one of the most important unprotected historic buildings in America," Lighthizer said.
 
Civil War Trust acquired the property in January 2015. The trust bought it after a fundraising effort. It included major gifts, grants and smaller donations. More than 11,000 people contributed.
 
Workers removed dormers that were added to the home in the 1900s. They replaced the roof, fixed the interior and demolished all modern buildings, including a Comfort Inn. The land was returned to its 1863 contours. Fencing was installed to replicate what was there at the time. An apple orchard - another feature of the Civil War-era landscape - will be planted in the spring.
 
"It was by far the most complex restorative effort we've ever done, and nothing else is even close," Adelman said.
 
With nearly all work complete, Gettysburg National Military Park plans to expand its boundaries to include Lee's headquarters.
 
The park service will use the house for special programming. It will be open to the public several days a year, including around the battle's anniversary. That will be similar to how it operates Union Gen. George Meade's headquarters.
 
"We're not the oldest democratic republic in the world by accident," Lighthizer said. "We went through a lot of trials and tribulations. This site marks one of the pivot points in how we remained a democracy, how we remained a unified nation."
 
"And that story needs to be told."

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/general-lees-headquarters-get-restoration/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why was the home left out of the Gettysburg National Military Park?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (31)
  • 23dgcamp
    11/14/2016 - 09:27 a.m.

    Why was the home lest out of the Gettysburg National Military Park?

    It was left out of the Gettysburg National Military Park because the museum was a commercial venture that transformed the surrounding area. I think that it is very cool that they were able to remake General Robert E. Lee's home. I am also surprised that it was in the same exact spot were the house was before.

  • tiffanyh-ste
    11/14/2016 - 12:46 p.m.

    Restoring it could have took some time but it's nice that people still care about the history of it. I wouldn't want it in the national park anyways so it gets ruined.

  • 23lrbeau
    11/16/2016 - 09:21 a.m.

    If Robert E. Lee would rode up tomorrow, he would recognize his own headquarters.The home was left out of Gettysburg National Military Park. It was gutted by fire in the late 1890s that had to be bad. By 1921, it had become General Lee's Headquarters Museum.It was by far the most complex restorative effort we've ever done, and nothing else is even close.

  • summer2-war
    11/17/2016 - 10:21 a.m.

    The home was left out of the Gettysburg National Military Park because it was ruined by fire in the late 1890s. However, by 1921, it had become General Lee's Headquarters Museum. I think it's inspiring that people worked together to restore General Lee's house. It is comforting to know there are still people out there that value historical artifacts and architecture. There is a sense of pride in said artifacts and architecture because it plays a huge role in how we came to be as a nation, and means a lot to the people in our past who did so much for our present. It is a great feeling to know there are so many people out there who care about history - especially our nation's history - as much as I do.

  • 23ambrow
    11/18/2016 - 09:23 a.m.

    It was restored and it costed $6 Million dollars. The base is in Gettysburg. It was were Gen.Robert E. Lee was. He was also in the Civil War. That's about the Gettysburg base.

  • 23smhurk
    11/18/2016 - 09:24 a.m.

    Because it was old and rink dink shack . I think its good to persevere history.

  • 23jlbail
    11/18/2016 - 10:01 a.m.

    I think it is cool they turned Robert E. Lee Headquarters into a trail walk. I also think it is cool you can go visit the place. And also it's still in good condition.

  • mouse-
    11/18/2016 - 10:54 a.m.

    I think its important to keep little pieces of american history and helps you know history a little better

  • sheep-
    11/18/2016 - 11:03 a.m.

    I really liked this article and it was very interesting.

  • eel-
    11/18/2016 - 12:12 p.m.

    That is amazing how those people chipped in to make general lee's headquarters look more like it in the 1800's.

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