“Battlefields Mean Business: Economic Benefits of Battlefield Preservation”

Many of our readers are familiar with heritage tourism. In fact many of us would say we are heritage tourists! Historic sites and the communities they reside in can mutually benefit from the visitors that they receive. The Civil War Trust recently released a detailed report of the benefits for these communities as they play host to our nation’s history and the many visitors that come to see it each year.  

The Civil War Trust released a report detailing the economic benefits that battlefield preservation can provide to U.S. communities. After investigating geographically diverse locations across the United States, the study found that historic sites support jobs, attract visitors, create opportunities for local business, and contribute to state and local coffers. Revealing what enhances the economic benefits of battlefields tourism, the report demonstrates that when more land is preserved, sites can become an even more powerful economic engine.

Preservation Victory at Goose Creek Bridge!

For those of you familiar with the Gettysburg Campaign, Little Round Top was not the first time the famous 20th Maine or Vincent’s Brigade saw combat during the events leading up to the battle. The Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks recently announced a preservation victory at Goose Creek Bridge where these units, along with JEB Stuart’s cavalry squared off almost 155 years ago. Find out more about this success by reading below.

“Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Announces Preservation Victory at Historic Goose Creek Bridge

The Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks recently hosted a news conference in scenic Loudoun County, Virginia, to announce the preservation of 20 acres associated with the Battle of Upperville—a small but significant early engagement of the momentous Gettysburg Campaign. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime champion of battlefield preservation in the Old Dominion, served as keynote speaker. Thanks to four decades of work by the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club, the historic Goose Creek Bridge and its adjacent hallowed grounds will become Northern Virginia’s newest regional historic park.”

Check out the full story here.

Uniform & Medal Presented To Civil War Veteran’s Home In Southern California

In Southern California, a special presentation by Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War helps to ensure historical discussion about a Civil War soldier and medal of honor recipient who lived the later part of his life in Fallbrook, California. It is always exciting to see new interpretation and discussion starters at historic sites.

On February 25, 2018, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Mary Jane Safford Tent #92 of Temecula, presented and dedicated an authentic Grand Army of the Republic 1890 medal and a Civil War reproduction Union uniform to the Pittenger House. Presentations were given by President Lynette Harmon-Canales and Senior Vice President Dawn Byrd-Beresovoy; the ladies shared about the history of the Grand Army of the Republic, the symbolism incorporated into the medal, and the details of the replica Union soldier uniform. Carolyn Ganoe, curator of the Pittenger House accepted the donation by President Lynette Harmon-Canales. Roy Moosa, President of Fallbrook Historical Society and Museum sponsored the event and featured the movie of the afternoon – The Great Locomotive Chase – to help honor Sgt. William Pittenger, Medal of Honor recipient, and start discussions about the Andrews’ Raid.

The replica uniform and medal will be displayed at the nearby Pittenger House in Fallbrook, which stands not far from the final resting place of this Union man.

The event was well-attended and offered an opportunity to discuss California’s place in Civil War history and the post-war era when many veterans came to the Golden State. Emerging Civil War editor Sarah Kay Bierle received an invitation to the event and happily attended.

Though perhaps not as dramatic as battlefield land preservation, the conservation and preparation of material displays enhances teaching opportunities and gives visitors to historic sites – like the Pittenger House – a better appreciation and understand of the past and its people who were influencers in local communities.

Gettysburg’s Famed Pickett’s Charge is Reimagined by Civil War Trust and Hirshhorn Museum

Check out this neat announcement from the Civil War Trust. In a different kind of preservation, preserving the memory of Pickett’s Charge, the Trust looks at a contemporary interpretation of the famed nineteenth-century  Gettysburg cyclorama. Keep reading to find out more about this project.

“Now on display in Washington, D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum is internationally acclaimed artist Mark Bradford’s “Pickett’s Charge.” Bradford’s painting is a contemporary interpretation of French artist Paul Philippoteaux’s 1883 cyclorama at Gettysburg National Military Park, which the Civil War Trust recently brought to life in the painting’s first-ever, annotated, 360-degree video.”

Want more information on the 360-degree video? Click here.

The Civil War Trust’s 2017 Year in Review

It is hard to believe that the third month of 2018 is almost upon us. If you have not had a chance to check out all of the great preservation successes of 2017 by the Civil War Trust, continue on below.

“In the 30th anniversary year of the modern battlefield preservation movement, the Civil War Trust saved over 2,000 acres of battlefield ground. For the first time, this includes battlefield land from the War of 1812 as well as land in the state of New York. Aside from reaching a total of 48,000 acres saved, the Trust also brought 4,500 schoolchildren onto battlefields via its Field Trip Fund initiative and reached millions of people through a newly-designed website.”

Click here for more information.

A Backstage Tour of the Atlanta Cyclorama (part four)

Gordon Jones hardhat

Dr. Gordon Jones

(part four of four)

We’ve been touring this week the new Atlanta cyclorama building at the Atlanta History Center—a state-of-the-art complex built specifically to showcase The Battle of Atlanta, a painting that depicts the July 22, 1864, Confederate breakthrough during the battle of Atlanta and the Federal counterattack to stem the tide. Our guide has been Dr. Gordon Jones, senior military historian and curator for the museum.

At 42 feet high and 358 feet long, the Atlanta cyclorama is the largest in the country—although, arguably, not the most famous. That distinction would probably go to the Gettysburg cyclorama, which was installed in a custom-made home of its own in 2008.

CHRIS MACKOWSKI: Is there a friendly rivalry with Gettysburg or do you guys work with them to learn from them? 

GORDON JONES: It’s basically that. They played a huge role in getting this done. Two things kind of came together. One: in Grant Park, attendance was declining. There was no money left for maintenance. It was a hand-to-mouth operation. So as attendance declined, there was nothing to maintain the painting, and it was starting to need some help. It had been thirty-five years since its last restoration. And at the same time, in the mid-2000s, Gettysburg was doing their cyclorama restoration. I was up there as part of the Museum Advisory Committee, and I got to see this going on.

So we started thinking about this here in Atlanta and, right around the time they finished theirs, our then-director started seriously thinking about it, and we went to our architect and we said, “Hey, man, can you do a little scratch drawing and see if we can fit this thing on our property somewhere?” And one thing led to another.

And then, the mayor, realizing the painting was headed in a downward spiral, called for an advisory committee and a task force to study what to do with it, partly at the urging of some of us. This was one of the recommended places. Here, or taking it downtown—it was whoever had the money. So we had a set of donors that came out of the woodwork that we had never met before and that we didn’t know. They read about it in the newspaper and said, “We’d like to make a legacy gift. We really want to save the Cyclorama. Here, have ten million dollars.” So with that, we were able to leverage the rest of the money and, at that point, it was just a matter of lining up the deal.

The Atlanta Zoo was able to take up the old building at Grant Park, and we were able to refurbish the painting so that it’s not left as derelict. The 1921 building is saved, the painting is saved, and we did it all with private money.

The city has leased this and [the locomotive] the Texas to us for seventy-five years, so in essence, it’s a win-win for everybody involved. We saved the building, we saved the painting, we saved the locomotive. It’s in a viable place now, it’s supported by an endowment, and it’s no longer hand-to-mouth. If nobody ever comes in to this painting as a paying customer ever again, it won’t matter because we have the money to maintain it anyway.

C.M.: So how much did the building cost?

G.J.: We’re not finished with that yet, but we’re going to say we have approximately a thirty-million dollar project, ten million of which is an endowment.

C.M.: What have I not asked about this project yet that I should know? I assume you get a lot of interest in people asking when is this going to be ready and that type of stuff.

G.J.: I think the main thing I’m trying to get across to people is just how many stories this thing can tell. It is the battle of Atlanta, but it’s more than that. It’s all about the memory of the Civil War, and the science of these things, and the artists of these things, and the Germans—the guys who came over here and made it big.

George Peter, the horse painter, stays over here and becomes sort of famous in his own right. He ends up doing all the background murals in the Natural History Museum in Milwaukee. And some of these other guys turn out to be Western artists, famous Wisconsin artists, at least. A lot of times they didn’t want to highlight the fact that they came over here to paint panoramas because that was like a low art form since it was popular.

But there are so many good stories, and I think the problem with this painting is that it has been associated too much with the battle of Atlanta and therefore with Confederacy, and in this town, it was a political football for a while and it doesn’t need to be.