As I sit here typing these words I can hear the snow and ice melting on the side of the house. Can spring be far behind? These last six weeks of cold and hibernation have gotten me thinking about summer, trying to calculate if and when were are going to go to Gettysburg. One thing I am still trying to process is last year’s Gettysburg sesquicentennial. There was so much to see, watch, and read that I’m still trying to sift through it all.
I am far from an expert on Gettysburg but I have been there at least a half dozen times and know the history and memory of the campaign fairly well. I mentioned in a post awhile back that one of my Gettysburg turning points was when I no longer saw Gettysburg as a tourist destination or historic site, but as a town. That is, as a place where people live, take their kids to Little League, cut the grass, and do all sorts of other mundane things. Ironically seeing Gettysburg in this context is what gave me a deeper understanding of the Gettysburg Campaign. It hit me hardest in the local cemetery.
One of the neat buildings on Baltimore Street is one that most tourists never see, let alone set foot in: the Gettysburg Federal Building. As it turns out, the structure is celebrating its 100th anniversary next week. Howard Taft approved the building, which locals were hoping would be done in time for the 50th anniversary in 1913. If you do the math you will see that that is not what happened. The building was many things over the years, including a post office. It’s interesting how old post offices often had that strong, assertive pose. The building is a testimony to the town’s importance. Eisenhower kept an office there as well. Today it is the Adams County Public Library.