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Doors Open Gettysburg- an insider's look at preservation

Doors Open Gettysburg offers an insider’s look into the preservation of many of Gettysburg National Military Park’s magnificent historic buildings.  This free event is held during National Historic Preservation Month in cities and towns throughout the U.S. and internationally.

On May 6, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., the National Park Service will open eight buildings on the Gettysburg battlefield to the public for a rare look at buildings ranging from recently restored to those in need of repair.  

In 2016, the Gettysburg event featured the Josiah Benner house; Blocher house; the Klingel house; the Leister house, also known as Meade’s Headquarters; the Brian house; the blacksmith shop at the Slyder farm; and two buildings at Gettysburg’s former National Guard Armory: the main armory building and the cannon carriage restoration shop that has been moved to the three-bay garage. Please note that the buildings are not wheelchair accessible. Armory, Main Building – The art deco Pennsylvania National Guard Armory building dates to 1938. The Commonwealth declared it excess property and donated it to the Gettysburg Foundation in 2014. Its significance is associated with early armories of the Pennsylvania National Guard. In 1944, the government temporarily held 50 prisoners of war in the armory while the prisoners constructed the POW compound along Emmitsburg Road. WWII reenactors will be on site to help tell this story. Park on West Confederate Avenue. Click here for a map of the building locations and parking information for each site.     

Armory, Cannon Shop – This garage was part of the armory complex and is the new home of Gettysburg National Military Park’s cannon carriage and monument preservation shop. Preservation specialists work on cannon carriages and other cast iron and monument features here. Park on West Confederate Avenue and follow the stairs on the south side of the building.    

Slyder Blacksmith Shop - Moved to the site in 1974 from Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, this log structure is still occasionally used as a blacksmith shop by Gettysburg National Military Park staff. Parking is along South Confederate Avenue, with a brief walk along an unpaved trail to see the site.

Leister Farm House (also known as Meade’s Headquarters) - Built in 1840, this log building was the home of Lydia Leister and used is the headquarters for the Union Army on July 2 and 3. It is furnished.  201 Taneytown Road.

Brian Farm House - This wood frame house built in 1800 is furnished. It suffered from infantry and artillery fire due to its position on the Union battle line on July 2 and 3. Abram Brian, an African-American lived with his wife and two children in the house and farmed 12 acres there. 60 Hancock Avenue.

Klingel House - This log home built in 1850 is located at the crest of the Emmitsburg Road Ridge a tactically important site for both armies. On July 2, Union soldiers used the Klingel house as a blockhouse, knocking out the chinking between the logs and firing at Confederates. Confederates captured the house in spite of the Union defense and used it the next day as a base from which to fire artillery upon Union positions during Pickets Charge.  Gettysburg’s Artists in Residence use the home today as a base for their residencies. Robert Beech, May’s Artist in Residence, will be demonstrating Wet Plate photography in the yard.  Follow signs for parking on Sickles Avenue.

Blocher House - Built in 1823 this one and a half story home is made of granite walls on a granite foundation. John Blocher, a weaver, lived here at the time of the battle. On July 1 the Confederates charged the Union 11th Corps all around this house and it was later used as an aid station. 150 Table Rock Road.

Josiah Benner House – This two-story brick house predates the battle. Located just off Harrisburg Road, it was in the line of advance by Early’s Confederate Division on the afternoon of July 1.  In an effort to attack and outflank Union positions on and near Barlow Knoll, Confederates had to pass around this solid obstacle.  The walls of the building provided cover for skirmishers of both sides during various portions of the July 1 conflict.  At the close of the fighting on that day, the house was pressed into use as a temporary Confederate field hospital.  Several Union soldiers and officers were also carried there for treatment. The park acquired the house in 2011 and is seeking funds to restore the site, possibly through historic leasing. 900 Old Harrisburg Road.

Eisenhower National Historic Site – as part of Doors Open, ticketed visitors to Eisenhower who ride the shuttle will have the opportunity to look into open garage doors and get a close look at Eisenhower’s historic vehicles. Tickets and shuttles operate from 1195 Baltimore Pike.

The event is co-sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation. For more information call 717-338-4469, or go to This is a National Park Service Centennial Event. Learn more here.

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