On Friday in Gettysburg, a brightly colored ribbon will be cut, signifying the completion of the Civil War Trust’s $6 million project to purchase four acres of the battlefield and restore a house located there that had been Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during the historic battle.
This deal was a particularly expensive one for the trust because a 42-room hotel with pool and fitness center was operating on the property. It was demolished soon after settlement.
The event, which will be held at 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public, will feature several speakers, including trust president Jim Lighthizer and Gettysburg National Military Park superintendent Ed Clark. The trust expects to transfer the property to the Park Service when it is able to accept it.
Following the ceremony, visitors may tour the small stone house with its restored interior and exterior as well as walk the surrounding grounds, where an apple orchard was recently planted.
The trust was particularly fortunate to have a photo of Lee’s headquarters taken by Mathew Brady shortly after the battle ended on July 3, 1863.
The image became the guide for the trust as it restored the 1,200-square-foot duplex where widow Mary Thompson lived. Such intrusions into private homes were common by commanders of both armies.
The photograph also yielded some information about Thompson’s lifestyle. She liked flowers, because a large arbor is close by the house and loaded with blooms, and presumably she had a pet dog, because a traditional rectangular doghouse can be seen in the yard. Skilled craftsmen have built replicas of the arbor and the doghouse.