News presents briefs about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

A landmark among the approximately 1,328 monuments, memorials, and markers at Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP) since its dedication on November 19, 1962, the ninety-ninth anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the Cyclorama Building was designed by architects Richard Neutra (1892–1970) and Robert E. Alexander (1907–1992).

Neutra moved to the United States in 1923 and worked briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before joining architect and close friend Rudolf Schindler in California. In 1932 he was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s seminal exhibition on modern architecture, curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock. In 1949 he and Alexander formed a partner-ship which lasted until rancorous disagreements over large-scale projects ended their association. Time featured Neutra on a cover that year and ranked him second only to Wright in American architecture. He has since been recognized as a master of modernist architecture.

After graduating from Cornell University in 1930, Alexander studied in Paris, Italy, and Spain. His work in the United States, mostly in California, won numerous awards and honors. He advised producers on Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, which opened in theatres in 1948.

In addition to housing the monumental 360 degree painting by Paul Philippoteaux (1846–1923) entitled Battle of Gettysburg (1883), the building also served as GNMP’s visitor center and provided an observation deck to replace an observation tower that once stood in Ziegler’s Grove. Cycloramas were popular during the nineteenth century in both America and Europe. These massive paintings were displayed in special auditoriums and galleries and enhanced by foregrounds, many of them featuring trees, shrubs, grasses, fences, and even life-sized figures. The result was a three-dimensional effect that surrounded viewers who stood on a central platform, placing them in the center of a great historical moment or event. Hundreds were painted and exhibited, but most were lost or destroyed as their popularity died with the introduction of a more entertaining art form, the motion picture.

Philippoteaux’s fantastic painting brings to life the fury of the final Confederate assault on July 3, 1863, the third and final day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The painting made its debut in Chicago and attracted such public acclaim that he was contracted to create a second painting which was exhibited in Boston for two decades, but waning public interest closed the attraction. Upon learning the fate of the painting, a Gettysburg area entrepreneur purchased it and its props, which he relocated to Gettysburg in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the battle in 1913. Battle of Gettysburg was acquired by the National Park Service (NPS) in the 1940s and installed in Neutra and Anderson’s masterful Cyclorama Building twenty years later.

The 1990s ushered in bitter debates about the building’s future and prompted a series of fierce legal actions. Carol D. Schull, Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, administered by NPS, in 1998 deter-mined the Cyclorama Building possessed “exceptional historic and architectural significance” and believed it was eligible for listing in the National Register. Her statements reversed opposing conclusions by NPS and the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts opposed the building’s demolition in 1999. NPS removed the cyclorama from the drum-shaped building in 2005 and installed it in the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center.

After the Cyclorama Building was not entered in the National Register, in 2010 a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff against demolition of the building, the Recent Past Preservation Network, that NPS “had failed to comply with federal law requiring it to analyze the effect of the Cyclorama demolition and come up with alternatives to destroying it.” In August that year the court-ordered NPS study concluded “the best course of action would be to demolish the Cyclorama building.” Less than six months later, in January 2013, NPS announced plans to demolish the drum-shaped building beginning Monday, February 4.