Gettysburg was immediately recognized as an important event in the course of the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address solidified the national significance of this battlefield. As early as 1864 efforts began that eventually transformed the battlefield to a national park. Naturally, veterans chose this as the premier location to place monuments to honor their fallen comrades and to detail the history of their unit. Today the National Park Service continues to balance the protection of the battlefield landscape with the need to commemorate this event. No future monuments will be placed on Gettysburg Battlefield according to the new General Management Plan.
Vandalism is a major threat to the 1,400 monuments and markers throughout the park. When a piece of bronze or granite is stolen or destroyed, it can cost anywhere from $50 to $15,000 to make repairs or fabricate replacements. Park staffing and funding is limited. However, you can make a difference. Endowments and donations for monuments are accepted by the Park for use in preserving and protecting these outdoor works of art. The Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg continue to provide support to the Park as all work together to care for these unique resources. The monuments, the symbolism and the emotion they evoke, are one of the remaining physical ties to the men who fought and died here. They deserve our respect and care.
The design of the Pennsylvania Memorial was a result of an artistic competition. The state wanted to "get away from the common tombstone, or the common shaft style." The design also needed to be "unique, chaste and in good architecture." The winner of the competition was architect W. Liance Cottrell of New York. Cottrell received $500 for his design - a memorial that reflected the beaux-arts style that promoted grandeur in architecture.
This is the largest of the state memorials in the park. In 1907 $15,000 was appropriated by the Pennsylvania legislature for the construction of a monument "in memory of the volunteer soldiers from Pennsylvania." At the time of the dedication on September 27, 1910, the memorial was not complete. An additional $40,000 was appropriated in 1911 to create the eight portrait statues that flank the arches. The memorial was completed in 1914.
The 35,000 soldiers from Pennsylvania represented the second largest contingent of Union soldiers to fight on this battlefield. This memorial was a unique way to honor the contribution made by those who fought in this battle — officers and enlisted men alike. The state wanted to assure that "these names shall be correctly spelled and that the name of no man who was engaged in the battle be omitted." Surviving soldiers of each regiment engaged at Gettysburg were requested to assist in developing the list of names to be placed on the tablets at the base of the memorial Nevertheless, by May 1, 1914, 230 names had been corrected as to spelling, 496 names had been removed and 219 had been inserted as near as possible to their proper places. Name changes or adjustments are no longer made to the historic tablets on the memorial.
The original intent of the tablets was not to be a complete roster of each organization, but to embrace only the names of those who were actually on duty near the scene of engagement and subject to the orders of General Meade. Soldiers on furlough or in the hospital are not entitled to have their names on the tablets, nor are men who deserted at any time after the battle. — Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Commission.
During the dedication of the memorial in 1910 the chairman of the monument commission closed his remarks by stating "...the beautiful Goddess of Victory and Peace is now signaling, from this one-time bloody field of battle, Pennsylvania's message to the world that war should cease and that peace should reign among the nations of the earth." The sword in her right hand and the palm in her left hand signify her dual representation of war and pace.
A major study funded by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg made possible by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts will identify the preservation work needed to restore the memorial. It is generally understood that the focus of its recommendations will be structural. Water infiltration problems, inherent structural defects, and the substandard condition of much of the aging concrete that supports the memorial will all have to be addressed. In addition, architectural metal ornamentation components will require preservation and restoration attention.
Plans call for opening the observation deck in a way that protects both visitors and the memorial. This will once again allow visitors to appreciate the unique character of this imposing commemorative structure.
The Pennsylvania Memorial has a history of moisture related, materials related, and structural problems. Since its completion, the National Park Service has attempted on several occasions to remedy these failures. Recent remedial efforts have focused on the exterior stonework of the dome. A 1998 study identified areas of special concern for the long-term preservation of the memorial. These areas include the concrete substructure and interior spiral staircase, terrace (main and observation levels), terrace walls and structural attachment of the statue of Winged Victory. Treatment plans will be developed to address water infiltration, cleaning, pointing, and conservation of the stone and metals.
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Pennsylvania Memorial rehabilitation work funded by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg with assistance of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge through a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. For more information about monument preservation contact Friends of the National Parks at www.friendsofgettysburg.org.