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
Lexile

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 that 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, president of Civil War Trust. It is the nonprofit that bought the house and grounds from private owners and 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 atop Seminary Ridge 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, 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 after a fundraising effort that included major gifts, grants and smaller donations from more than 11,000 people.
 
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 and open it to the public several days a year, including around the battle's anniversary, 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, and 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."

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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 (1)
  • gmatthew-dav
    11/03/2016 - 10:49 p.m.

    My opinion of the topic is that it is a good article because it explains the value of preserving historical buildings, and here is my evidence to support that claim. my first piece of evidence reads "Without question, this was one of the most important unprotected historic buildings in America," I think this means in light of the battle of gettysburg this building was important to preserve because it was a important battle in the civil war. And a major turning point in our nation's history so it is paramount to preserve this for future generations. My second piece of evidence is "We went through a lot of trials and tribulations, and this site marks one of the pivot points in how we remained a democracy, how we remained a unified nation." This further supports my Idea of this article's topic of historical preservation. I think what this is saying is that there are several important places where american history was shaped and redefined in a good way and this why we are here today. My third and final piece of evidence is "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," I think this supports my main idea of preserving historical buildings because this is where Robert Lee dictated the battle and maybe even the outcome of the civil war so I believe it is important to preserve this for future generations. In conclusion one of this article's main idea was historical preservation, and I believe historical preservation is important in preserving our nations history.

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