A Changed Landscape at Lee’s HQ

lees-hq-oct-2016-01Visitors to Gettysburg recently have seen a remarkable change in the Day One landscape: Lee’s headquarters now sits alone on the north side of Route 30, overlooking the field.

Owned at the time by the widow Mary Thompson, the house served as Lee’s headquarters for the battle of Gettysburg beginning on the afternoon of July 1, 1863. It later became a museum and, eventually, the site of a motor lodge for tourists.

In 2014, the Civil War Trust acquired the property, calling it “one of America’s most significant unprotected sites.” Since then, the Trust has worked to restore the property to its wartime appearance.

And now, the project is nearly complete.

“This project involved some of the Trust’s most ambitious work to date,” Trust President James Lighthizer told supporters in an email earlier this month. He called it a “landmark preservation achievement” and reiterated its standing as “some of the most significant land in the country.”

On October 28, the Trust will officially cut the ribbon on the completed project. “We will unveil the restored Mary Thompson House, present historically appropriate landscaping, and open a new interpretive trail,” Lighthizer said.


All traces of the old motor lodge are gone, as are the surrounding parking lots. Even the Rugus Dawes gas pump, commemorating the old Lincoln Highway, has been removed.

You can see a time-lapse chronicle of the Trust’s work at Lee’s Headquarters at civilwar.org, including behind-the-scenes photos of the restoration and that master planning that went into the project.

For more of Emerging Civil War’s coverage of the story as it has unfolded:


11 Responses to A Changed Landscape at Lee’s HQ

  1. So proud to say we chipped in on this and many other CWT projects. They are our #1 charity. We have been invited and are attending the ribbon cutting on 10/28. Will post pics.

      1. This is great Have watched them take parts of Gettysburg from cheesy looking to stunning Will have to see this for myself soon

  2. Took some friends down to Gettysburg for a tour thru our learning center Echos Thru Time and i can say it was money donated where it could do the most good . Thank you Civil War Trust.

  3. One of the best family vacations we ever had was our visit to Gettysburg. I had saved up some money and we stayed at The Old Quality Inn at General Lee’s Headquarters, in that building.

    We talked about how great it was that Lee’s HQ was in private hands, and not owned by the National Park Service. Sure, it wasn’t “authentic”, I know that Lee didn’t have a jacuzzi tub or in room microwave or coffee maker, but we got to spend two nights in Lee’s H.Q., and that was really cool… it made us happy. That’s not something you can do at a museum.

    Now that is gone. Nobody else will ever have the chance to stay in Lee’s H.Q.

    I’m sorry but that makes me sad.

  4. I am so happy that the CWT bought this property and returned it back to 1863 era. Although I had eaten lunch at the restaurant, I’m glad that it is gone. Standing at the fence looking west, down the Chamberstown Road, puts the entire experience into a completely different perspective. Something that was lost, for what seemed forever but has now been returned to July 1,2,3, 1863. Thank you CWT!

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