The Campaign to Save Richard Neutra's
Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg

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Determining the Significance of the Cyclorama Building

Historic Resources Committee, American Institute of Architects (AIA), 15 March 1997, Resolution
"We find the determination of eligibility reports to be much more complete and balanced in the areas reflecting Civil War activities...[rather] than in the section concerning the building and its architects. ... the building assumes an importance greater than the reviewer allowed...we request a rethinking and reevaluation of the determination." Link to text of document

National Register of Historic Places Determination of Eligibility, September 1998
"While it is undebatable that Neutra has been highly and widely acclaimed for his earlier residential designs for some time, it is not unusual for the significance of his later work to be gaining attention with the passage of time. Scholars are now placing his later works too into the context of modern architecture of the period. As such, the Cyclorama Building is a rare example of Neutra's institutional design on the east coast and one of his very few Federal commissions. While not currently analyzed in detail in publications, it is one of a very few of his later works often mentioned or illustrated. Similarly, the evolving scholarship on the history and impact of the Mission 66 program on design in the parks clearly indicates the seminal importance of the visitor center as a building type and of the examples designed by master Modern architects mentioned above, including the Cyclorama Building." Link to text of document

Section 106 Case Report: Cyclorama Building, January 1999

Section 106 Case Report, Cyclorama Building, Gettysburg National Military Park
(Full-Text Document--Released by National Park Service, January 1999)
Description of Park Plan and their Analysis of the Building
"The NPS has determined that the removal of the Cyclorama Building (and the visitor center) would result in a decided beneficial impact to the historic landscapes of the Union battle lines of July 2 and July 3, 1863. ...Option D: (The Preferred Option) New Visitor Center and Museum Complex. This option would provide a new complex to house the park's Visitor Center, museum, cyclorama painting and collections storage, located on a site within the area of consideration. All visitor functions in the existing buildings would be relocated. Collections storage would be incorporated into the new facility. The new museum complex would allow the appropriate conservation and preservation of the cyclorama painting. New permanent museum exhibits would allow the park to tell the story of the Gettysburg Campaign in its broad context of the Civil War and American history. This option proposed removing the existing visitor center and Cyclorama Building and rehabilitating their sites to reflect the historic landscapes of the battlefield setting." Link to text of document

o Society of Architectural Historians, President Richard Longstreth, Response to S106 Report
"We must, however, register disagreement over many of the points raised in your report and in the proposed General Management Plan. At stake, we believe, are fundamental issues concerning the practice of historic preservation in the United States that transcend the resources involved."
Link to text of letter

o Richard and Dion Neutra Architecture, Dion Neutra, Response Letter
"It is my regret that at no time during the nearly 40 years since the completion of the Cyclorama Center, was our office ever consulted when the myriad 'deficiencies' came to light, which are now so copiously being listed. Undoubtedly much of this was before your watch. I am convinced, however, that much of the degradation that the painting and other parts of the project have sustained, could have been addressed, mitigated and solved long ago." Link to text of letter

o Preservation Pennsylvania, President David L. Taylor, Response Letter
"Having reviewed the material provided, Preservation Pennsylvania continues to believe that the future of the Cyclorama Building and its relationship to the Cyclorama painting deserve a full and unbiased study of alternatives to demolition, which we do not feel has occurred to date." Link to text of letter

o National Trust for Historic Preservation, President Richard Moe, Response Letter
"In summary, the National Trust supports the National Park Service’s position that primary significance should be accorded thc original battlefield landscape. We also agree that the removal or relocation of the existing visitor complex would help the Park Service meet its objectives of restoring the character-defining features of part of the historic landscape associated with the Battle of Gettysburg, and improve public understanding of the Battle. Because the Cyclorama Building is eligible for the National Register as a structure of "exceptional" significance, however, we believe that the Park Service's case for demolition of this particular building should be a strong one. Assuming that the Park Service thoroughly addresses the issues raised in this letter as it continues the Section 106 consultation process, the National Trust is prepared to fully support the final decision of the Park Service." Link to text of letter

National Historic Landmark Nomination, Denial, & Appeal, 1999-2002

The National Historic Landmark nomination for this building, completed by Richard Longstreth and Christine Madrid for the Society of Architectural Historians in 1999, is available to the public. The NHL is broken up into three parts for easier on-line reading and printing. Link to full-text online version: Part I | Part II | Part III. HTML files.

In November, 2000, the National Parks Advisory Board refused to grant NHL status to the Cyclorama Building, but approved the nominations for three other Mission 66-era visitor centers with identical historic contexts and statements of significance: Dinosaur, Utah, Wright Brothers, North Carolina, and Rocky Mountain, Colorado. Politics?

Letter from Congressman James Hansen to the Department of the Interior supporting a second review of the National Historic Landmark nomination for the Cyclorama Building May 26, 2000 (see Hansen's previous letter regarding the Cyclorama)

Letter from Richard Longstreth, Society of Architectural Historians Appeal of NHL determination, to Fran Mainella, Director, NPS, 24 February 2004 "The failure of the National Park Service to recognize this building as a National Historic Landmark is without foundation. Furthermore, the loss of this building, which is scheduled for demolition in the foreseeable future, would constitute an impairment of the first order, in direct violation of the Park Service's stated mission..."
Link to PDF Image of Letter page 1 | page 2

Other Documents:

Landscape Preservation and Interpretation: Issues of Use, Historical Experience, and Myth at Gettysburg National Military Park. Thesis by Nathan Jefferson Riddle (Columbia University, 1998). Critical analysis of National Park Service interpretive policies at Gettysburg NMP with special coverage of Neutra's Cyclorama Building (ca. 1961) and its place on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

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This site composed and administered by Christine Madrid French 2004.