Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama Demolished

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Friday, March 8, 2013
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Neutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (Britt Isenberg / Flickr)

Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (Britt Isenberg / Flickr)

It has been clear since earlier this year that Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama Center in Gettysburg, PA was to meet the wrecking ball, but within the last week, bulldozers have officially destroyed the structure, according to Hanover Evening Sun, ending a more-than-three-year battle over what to do with the mid-century building.

Originally designed to house Paul Philippoteaux’s 377-foot painting of Pickett’s Charge, the rotunda is being torn down in order to restore the land on which it has resided since the 1960′s to it’s historic Civil War state. Bob Kirby, Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park, expects demolition to be completed by late April but major efforts to restore the landmark site will not occur until after July 3rd, the date marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Neutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (Britt Isenberg / Flickr)

Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (Britt Isenberg / Flickr)

Neutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (lcm1863 / Flickr)

Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (lcm1863 / Flickr)

Neutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (lcm1863 / Flickr)

Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (lcm1863 / Flickr)

Neutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (lcm1863 / Flickr)

Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama under demolition. (lcm1863 / Flickr)

Neutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama before demolition. (Leslie Johnston / Flickr)

Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama before demolition. (Leslie Johnston / Flickr)

Neutra's Gettysburg Cyclorama before demolition. (Jen Goellnitz / Flickr)

Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama before demolition. (Jen Goellnitz / Flickr)

5 Responses to “Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama Demolished”

  1. Caleb Crawford says:

    too bad. I am conflicted here – did the Neutra building defile the landscape, or is it a desecration of a work of architecture? Arthur Danto wrote a wonderful piece on Gettysburg, equating the landscape to a work of art. The landscape is imbued with meaning because of the knowledge of the events that occurred there. It’s in “Philosophizing Art.”

  2. Jay Raskin says:

    It has been interesting to see the dilemma’s posed by post war modern buildings as they start passing the 50 year make to become eligible for the National Register. It is these buildings and the destruction of so many older buildings they sometimes replaced that gave a strong push to the historic preservation movement and the adoption of historic preservation regulatory structure that is now in place.

    There is the “period of historical significance” criteria that does act as a guide, but it doesn’t answer all questions since 50 years is time enough to accrue meaning for buildings and places. Which vision of place and history is the more important?

  3. Sherida Paulsen says:

    This is a very sad moment. The Cyclorama was a distinguished work of architecture, and a lovely home to the painting of Pickett’s Charge. The overwhelming sense of place at Gettysburg was never compromised by this building, and its placement was actually a frame for the present-day visitor to view the past. True preservation demands that we constantly work on our historic sites to both maintain them in as close to original situation as possible, and to interpret them for contemporary viewers. Demolition of this building accomplishes neither goal, and denies future visitors the experience of a truly great building designed for a specific work of art at a specific place on the fields. History has been denied, not reclaimed.

  4. David B Gardner, AIA says:

    My reaction is one of conflicting viewpoints as well but in the end maybe the right thing was done. The work of a great architect should not be discarded without a great deal of thought. But too we must remember what this place is about, what Neutra’s assignment was 50 years ago – which i hope was to create a place to help people understand what Gettyburg meant to the nation and the many who lost their lives there. Was Neutra’s solution fitting? Was it the best ambassador it could have been? Should we insist on the best facility we can design for this sacred place or fixate on who designs it and how many years ago it was designed? Should the structure be introverted, inward looking sculpture or outward looking, quiet and one with the landscape?

  5. Denna Jones says:

    In the same way Neutra’s Kaufmann House in Palm Springs reflects a belief that the natural world (in this case the Sonoran Desert) should bend to humanity’s will, his Cyclorama imposed itself on the Gettysburg landscape like an invasive Kudzu. I like Neutra’s buildings, but not this one. The Cyclorama was at notorious odds with its setting. Better the Gettysburg custodians try to reclaim what JB Jackson called the vernacular past of memorials in his essay The Necessity for Ruins.

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