Cyclorama Center under construction, 1961.

Don’t Tear It Down!

Cyclorama Center under construction, 1961.

A panoramic view of the battlefield landscape with the Cyclorama at the left and the now-demolished tower at the center.
Whether the building stays on site or is moved to a new location, all efforts should be put forth to keep this extraordinary visitor center as an historic place for public learning and education.
Sign the Petition to Save!

See our new selection of measured drawings of the building on our HABS Drawings page with downloadable PDFs of each image!
WE WON AT GETTYSBURG!

Judge Hogan rules in favor of the Plaintiffs! The NPS and the Department of the Interior must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and cannot demolish the building at this time. The NPS is contemplating whether to appeal this ruling. Friends of the Cyclorama hope that the NPS will instead open their doors to new dialogue and discussion about the future of this Neutra-designed building.

Old News:

Park Service Agrees to Delay Demolition Until Lawsuit Resolution
See this letter from the U.S. Department of Justice for details (PDF download).

U.S. District Court to hear Cyclorama Case… Hearing on Summary Judgment in the case of Recent Past Preservation Network, et al, vs. Superintendent John Latschar, et. al. Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal, LLP, a firm with 700 lawyers in 15 offices in the U.S. and Europe, contributed their expertise pro bono to the case on behalf of RPPN.

Download a PDF of the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, filed in U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, December 2006.

Press Coverage of the Cyclorama

Current photograph (October 2008) of front of the visitor center. The NPS is letting the building deteriorate in anticipation of its demolition. More photographs here, not for the faint-hearted.
Local Businessmen Offer Land for Relocation of Cyclorama Center

Two Gettysburg businessmen have come forward with offers of open land for relocation of the Cyclorama Center. Moving the building is possible and should be considered over removal. Jerry Matyiko, president and owner of Expert House Movers and member of the International Association of Structural Movers, has examined the building in connection to the RPPN lawsuit against the Park Service.

In his declaration, Mr. Matyiko stated that the building can be removed from Ziegler’s Grove and relocated “using dolly wheels and a grid of steel beams.” He estimated a cost of $5 million, not including site work and preparation of the building.

In the last forty years, Mr. Matyiko has moved a number of unlikely structural candidates, including an airport terminal and a five-story high theater. In 1989, his company relocated the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for the Park Service, a project later awarded the 2000 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement by the American Society of Civil Engineers. His statement can be downloaded here. You can see more of his work at http://www.experthousemovers.com.

Photographs of the Building

Only four historic cyclorama buildings exist in the U.S.; two have been renovated for new uses and two continue to display cyclorama paintings. Only one is in danger of demolition — Neutra’s Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
See the cycloramas of the U.S. here.
Old Visitor Center is New Battle of Gettysburg from NPR

A new visitor’s center at Gettysburg National Military Park opens today. For the first time since 2005, the public will be able to view the 1884 restored cyclorama painting of the battle. Meanwhile, the historic home of the painting sits dark and vacant, igniting a battle over preservation. WHYY’s Arts and Culture reporter, Alex Schmidt paid a visit to the historically and architecturally significant building and has this story. Audio file.

York (PA) Daily Record Supports Wait-And-See for the Cyclorama Center
“What’s the hurry to demolish the building?”
see editorial

Support Letters from the World

Recent Past Preservation Network Sues National Park Service to Prevent Removal of Historic Building at Gettysburg

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Recent Past Preservation Network, a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation and understanding of modern architecture, has sued the National Park Service to prevent the agency from demolishing the historic Cyclorama Center in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The lawsuit, filed today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges multiple violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and the national Historic Preservation Act, and would prevent the Park Service from demolishing the Cyclorama Center until the agency complies with federal law.

The Cyclorama Center was designed by the late architect Richard Neutra, who is recognized by architectural historians and the popular press alike as a master architect of modern design. Neutra’s buildings stand alongside those of fellow architect and friend Frank Lloyd Wright in the history of American architecture. Neutra’s contributions to American design include some of the greatest works of architecture in this country, such as the Lovell “Health” House in Los Angeles and the Kauffman House in Palm Springs. In 1977, Neutra was posthumously awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, an exclusive and prestigious award honoring his “lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.”

The Cyclorama Center is a rare example of Neutra’s civic architecture on the East Coast. The architect himself described it as the project closest to his heart. In 1998, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places declared the Cyclorama Center to be an historic structure, concluding that the building possesses “exceptional historic and architectural significance.”

The Park Service currently plans to demolish the Cyclorama Center as part of an agency plan for the area of Gettysburg known as Ziegler’s Grove. In 1999, the agency pledged to notify and involve the public in any future changes to Ziegler’s Grove, and to comply with federal environmental laws. Today’s lawsuit charges that the Park Service has not kept these promises. Instead, the agency has determined to tear down the Cyclorama Center without any public notice or involvement, and in violation of two major federal laws protecting the environment.

The Recent Past Preservation Network hopes to persuade the Park Service that the Cyclorama Center should be relocated, not destroyed. The group has been working with the community and has received strong interest in preserving and relocating the building within Gettysburg. The organization has the support of a variety of businesses, property-owners, and developers, and has even identified suitable land in town. However, the Park Service has not responded to any letters or phone calls from the plaintiffs in more than two years.

The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Dion Neutra, the architect son and professional partner of Richard Neutra, and Christine Madrid French, who has authored several published works on modern architecture in America’s national parks. All three plaintiffs are represented, on a pro bono basis, by the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP.

Critical Links:

Download a PDF of the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, filed in U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, December 2006.

Gettysburg Cyclorama Center Selected for 2006 World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites

This week, at the 142nd anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, preservationists are renewing their call for the restoration of the Cyclorama Center, a premiere American modern building that overlooks the famous battlefield and commemorates Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. On June 21, the World Monuments Fund (WMF), the foremost private, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic art and architecture worldwide, included the imperiled Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg on its biennial Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Preservationists have labored for nearly a decade to save this building, one of the first “visitor centers” ever built in the national park system and a landmark in the work of famed architect Richard Neutra. The National Park Service, the primary public agency charged with protecting significant American sites, has so far refused to preserve the structure, one recognized by the U.S. National Register of Historic Places for “its exceptional historic and architectural significance.” The Cyclorama Center remains on a short list for demolition; the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation, a private partner of the National Park Service and headed by Robert Wilburn, plans to raze the structure.

The Recent Past Preservation Network (RPPN), a non-profit, volunteer organization, nominated the Cyclorama Center for inclusion on the World Monuments Watch List, supported by preservation groups, such as DOCOMOMO and Preservation Pennsylvania, as well as Dion Neutra, project architect for the Cyclorama and head of the Neutra design firm, which celebrates its eightieth year of service in 2006. Architectural historian Christine Madrid French, president of RPPN and a Neutra scholar, hailed the Cyclorama Center’s listing as a major victory in the group’s campaign to save the building and raise public awareness for the preservation of postwar American architecture. “We applaud the World Monuments Fund for recognizing the significance of this building and highlighting the threat posed to it by the National Park Service. In this case, we cannot cross our fingers and hope for the best. The building needs strong advocates and public support. With this listing in hand, we will urge the President and the U.S. Congress to act in time to save this unique structure.” MORE INFORMATION HERE

Links of Interest : See the Cyclorama From the Air with Virtual Globetrotter | Neutra House Moved down Sunset Blvd in LA | Neutra Los Altos Cottage Moved | Neutra’s VDL House v Hard Times |

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