President Bush - Pardon Neutra's Cyclorama at Gettysburg

  • Author:
    n/a
  • Send To:
    President George W. Bush, the Commonwealth of PA, National Park Service, and others
  • Sponsored By:
    Recent Past Preservation Network
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Pardon Neutras Cyclorama at Gettysburg!
Start Winter 2004 Petition-2

RECYCLE THE CYCLORAMA !

Mr. President; start by granting this building a PARDON!

As a concerned preservationist, I am distressed that the national administration, Pennsylvania elected officials, the Secretary of Interior, the National Park Service Director , and other officials have signed onto the program of demolition of the 1961 Richard Neutra-designed Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg National Military Park at the high point of the battlefield site in Pennsylvania.

After relocation of the cyclorama painting, the Park Service fully intends to destroy the Cyclorama Building, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and twice nominated for National Landmark Status. This without considering adaptive re-use or preservation alternatives and despite the protestations of architects, preservation professionals, noted historians and over 2000 signers of letters and petitions to fall, 2004.

The demolition is a component of a creative redevelopment scheme. Under the approved plan, a private developer would tear down this valuable cultural resource and smooth over the site investing up to $10,000,000 to replant and memorialize the history of this building. (located within walking distance of the town of Gettysburg and the proposed new complex) This is being done under the guise of clearing the battlefield! There is NO OTHER STRUCTURE proposed to be built at this site! (And none of the many other 'encroachments' to the battlefield near by are proposed to be demolished, nor should they, by the way.)

A private development company would construct a new complex complete with expansive new parking lots, on previously undisturbed battlefield land across Taneytown Road. from the present site. Whereas this was originally announced as a private venture, nearly $15,000,000 of public funding has recently been pledged to help in the effort to raise the $100,000,000 price tag of the new project. Ground breaking is slated for 2005, apparently. whether the money is all in hand or not. Meanwhile the painting is being dismantled from public viewing without discussion of whether options exist for how to reduce its down-time.

The national significance of the Cyclorama Building is recognized by leading organizationsincluding the Museum of Modern Art, DOCOMOMO, the Society of Architectural Historians, and the American Institute of Architects. The actions of the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service follow a pattern of disregard for public input on this controversial matter. It is clear to me -- and to many other concerned citizens across the country, and around the globe -- that neither the agency nor the department has been able to adjust its view over the past five years, and objectively recognize the increasing appreciation for Neutra's work and particularly the historical and cultural significance of the Cyclorama Building. This is likely to be the case as long as the current park administration continues its pattern of neglect and disrespect for its Stewardship of this cultural monument in its midst.

A renewed effort to save the building is underway, led by the Recent Past Preservation Network (www.recentpast.org) in cooperation with the Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design, (www.neutra.org), DOCOMOMO U.S., and other allied organizations. We recently concluded phase I of this effort directed to the Governor, with over 700 signatures on a petition like this, highlights of which will be published on the above websites.

This new petition is part of Phase II of this effort, now directed directly to the President of the US, and to garner support from others who are increasingly aghast at the Park Service Plan. At some point it is planned to deliver the results of these campaigns to the offices of the officials addressed.

I join this coalition of preservationists to urge you, before it's too late, to grant a Presidential pardon to Richard Neutras Cyclorama at Gettysburg and find say $20,000,000 for its restoration and integration into the visitation experience for a new generation of visitors to this historic site. The project architect of the Cyclorama has proposed numerous adaptive reuse options for his building once the funding is identified. There is reason to hope that calmer minds can prevail, and that everyone can win here at the same time upgraded visitor facilities are built. This 30,000sf of tax payer paid-for space can be made an adjunct and supplement for what is proposed across the street!

RECYCLE THE CYCLORAMA!