For Immediate Release: 07/01/00
Civil War Preservation Trust Hails Tower Demolition as Triumph for Battlefield Preservation
CWPT President James Lighthizer calls the removal of the notorious Gettysburg tower a 'turning point' in the fight to save America's remaining Civil War battlefields
(Gettysburg, PA) - The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), America's largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization, today reiterated its support for the impending demolition of the National Tower on the Gettysburg battlefield. The 307-foot tower, long considered the "poster child" for battlefield encroachment, is scheduled to be razed on July 3, 2000, the 137th anniversary of the climactic battle of the American Civil War.
"The removal of the Gettysburg tower is the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance," noted CWPT President James Lighthizer. "The destruction of this steel leviathan is a triumph for Civil War enthusiasts nationwide."
Since opening its doors three decades ago, the tower has been a source of indignation for history buffs and preservationists alike. It dominates the hills and fields of Gettysburg, leaving few vistas where the hourglass-shaped structure cannot be seen. Music from the tower's loudspeakers can be heard from the spot in the Soldiers National Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address. "The tower's modern design presents an almost alien presence on the battlefield," Lighthizer stated. "A more inappropriate or invasive structure simply could not have been built."
Removal of the tower has been a long-standing goal of CWPT and one of its predecessor organizations, The Civil War Trust. Over the years, CWPT has worked closely with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg to raise awareness and seek funding to demolish the eyesore.
Lighthizer hopes that the removal of the tower will be, like the battlefield it once defiled, a turning point in our nation's history. "The fight to save America's endangered Civil War battlefields is far from over," Lighthizer warned. "We cannot afford to become complacent. We must build upon this victory in order to save our remaining hallowed grounds."
More than 20 percent of our country's Civil War battlefields have succumbed to development since 1993. CWPT estimates that an acre of hallowed ground is lost every 10 minutes. Sadly, the most threatened battlefields were among the more decisive of the war, including Stones River in Tennessee, Chancellorsville in Virginia, and Gettysburg itself.
With 35,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its goal is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism.