Visitors 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:
- Lee’s Headquarters at Gettysburg 151 years ago (July 3, 2014)
- Visiting Headquarters by Chris Mackowski (Aug. 27, 2014)
- Lee’s Headquarters at Gettysburg by Dan Davis (April 15, 2016)