Pardon Neutras Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg

  • Author:
    n/a
  • Send To:
    President Barack Obama, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, National Parks Service Director Mary Bomar, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent James Robert Bob Kirby
  • Sponsored By:
    Neutra.org
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Pardon Neutras Cyclorama at Gettysburg! 1/11/09 edition.

RECYCLE THE CYCLORAMA ! Create The Lincoln National Museum at Gettysburg

Mr. President; grant this building a PARDON! If a turkey can qualify, why not a building? You can be the first in history to save an important part of our built heritage!

As a concerned preservationist, I am appalled that the national administration, Pennsylvania elected officials , the Secretary of Interior, the National Park Service Director , and others have signed onto a 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.

Pending a ruling from a federal judge on a lawsuit filed in 2007, the Park Service appointed by the Bush Administration intended 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 the start of your term. We continue the count; can you take note?

Under the approved plan, a private developer would tear down this valuable cultural resource, burden some landfill, and smooth over the site investing up to 10M to replant and memorialize the history of this building, located within walking distance of the town of Gettysburg and the 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 in plain sight nearby are proposed to be demolished, nor should they be).

A private development company has constructed 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 been spent as a part of the 100,000,000+ price tag of the new project. The painting has been restored for installation in the new venue over the past year or two.

The national significance of the Cyclorama Building has been recognized by leading organizationsincluding:
* The Museum of Modern Art
* DOCOMOMO, the Society of Architectural Historians
* The American Institute of Architects
* World Monument Fund.
The actions of the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service follow a pattern of disregard for recent 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 ten years to objectively see the historical and cultural significance of the Cyclorama Building and the increasing appreciation of the work of the Neutra firm.

This is likely to be the case as long as the park administration continues its pattern of neglect and disrespect for this cultural monument in its midst. Hopefully under your administration one can hope for a more enlightened stewardship? A new superintendent who appreciates the building would be a start.

The continuing effort to save this building has been led by the Recent Past Preservation Network (recentpast.org) in cooperation with the Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design, (Neutra.org), DOCOMOMO U.S., and other allied organizations. I join this coalition of preservationists to urge you to immediately grant a PRESIDENTIAL PARDON to Richard Neutras Cyclorama at Gettysburg and find $40M for its restoration and integration into the visitation experience for a new generation of visitors to this historic site. Another public works project?

The project architect for the original structure, Dion Neutra, is still in practice. He has suggested various ways this building, its cyclorama theater, the view deck, and the associated display and office areas could be reconstituted as adjunct visitation experiences for visitors to this site. Aside from supplementary displays about the historic battle, the building could find a new life as

The Lincoln National Museum at Gettysburg

with an emphasis on the most famous speech ever given in the history of our country. One of the presentations in the theater could be a reenactment of the events leading up to that afternoon in 1863, when Lincoln was asked to deliver remarks on the occasion of the dedication of the new cemetery 100 yards from the site.

There would be the opportunity finally to use the facilities planned for by Richard Neutra, to commemorate the anniversary of this speech by the use of the Historic Rostrum which is part of the original design with all the flexible provisions for participants to share in the moment. What better time than the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great emancipator, to rededicate this structure for such a noble new use? You could announce this from its grand hall on the next anniversary of the address!

We hope that calmer minds can prevail, and that everyone can win here This historic 30,000sf of tax payer paid for space can be reborn as an adjunct and supplement for what is newly in operation across the street!

RECYCLE THE CYCLORAMA