Robert E. Lee’s headquarters gets $6 million facelift
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
GETTYSBURG — Over the decades, the stone house and grounds that served as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s headquarters at Gettysburg sprouted a motel, restaurant and other modern structures that dismayed preservationists and Civil War buffs keen on authenticity.
Now, after a $6 million restoration that erased decades of development at the 4-acre site, the property looks much as it did in July 1863, when Lee suffered defeat in a bloody three-day battle that turned the tide of the war.
“If Robert E. Lee would ride up tomorrow, he would recognize his headquarters. And for over 100 years that wasn’t the case,” said James Lighthizer, president of Civil War Trust, the nonprofit that bought the house and grounds from private owners and completed the restoration.
The area around the circa-1830s house was the scene of heavy fighting on the battle’s first day, and its strategic location atop Seminary Ridge made it an ideal spot for Lee’s battlefield headquarters.
The home was left out of Gettysburg National Military Park, then gutted by fire in the late 1890s. By 1921, it had become a commercial venture.
“Without question, this was one of the most important unprotected historic buildings in America,” Lighthizer said.
The site now includes a walking trail and interpretive signage. Plans call for the property to be turned over to the National Park Service.