Momentum Builds in Downtown Gettysburg
From "The Gettysburg Quarterly," the park newspaper of the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg Foundation, and the Gettysburg community are working to create a “seamless” story of the battle of Gettysburg for visitors by telling compelling stories of the battle through town, the aftermath of battle in the town, the civilian experience during the tragic days of July 1863, and the town’s recovery. The master plan for this effort, known as the “Interpretive Plan for the Borough of Gettysburg,” was created in 2000 and is being implemented by Main Street Gettysburg. Main Street’s goals are to preserve the town’s historic resources, expand interpretation, enhance the economic benefits of tourism in the community, and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.
Momentum is building in Gettysburg’s downtown on several of these projects, some of which have already been completed and others will be coming on line in the next two years. Gettysburg College restored the Majestic Theater in downtown Gettysburg and it now operates as a performing arts center and cinema. Gettysburg’s historic Train Station is owned by the Borough and is now fully restored. It is being developed as a downtown information station and orientation space and will be a destination for the planned park/downtown shuttle.
The Wills House is on the National Register of Historic Places, and enjoys national renown as the place where President Abraham Lincoln spent the night before delivering the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. Construction will begin later this year to rehabilitate the structure to its 1863 appearance, and install exhibits for its future life as a public Lincoln Museum. The museum will open in 2008. Exhibit designers Gallagher and Associates are creating the exhibits in the Wills House and the Train Station, as well as those in the new Museum and Visitor Center, which will help achieve the goal of seamless interpretation.
Two other major projects are in development now to improve the visitor experience: a shuttle system connecting the new park museum and visitor center with several sites in the town and a new, updated signage system throughout the park and the town. The shuttle system, a joint project between the park, the Borough of Gettysburg, and the Adams County Transit Authority, will alleviate traffic congestion and create new opportunities for visitors to experience the town on foot (with a beneficial side effect of increased visitor spending). The partners are also working on a project to create a new system of signs, called Wayfinding. This coordinated effort will address four needs:
1. Gettysburg Foundation’s need for new directional signage from
the highways to the new museum and visitor center
2. Gettysburg National Military Park’s need for new and updated
signs to replace a system that is 30 years old and failing
3. A combined need between the Park and the Borough for
new wayfinding systems within the town to reduce
confusing sign clutter and improve wayfinding for both cars
4. Signs needed for the new shuttle system.
Happily, all four of these sign projects are being coordinated and Gallagher and Associates, designers of both the new museum exhibits and the Wills House exhibits, will be designing new wayfinding systems for all four needs.