Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced last Friday that the National Park Service has acquired 95 acres of the former Gettysburg Country Club property to preserve as part of the park. The former country club land – now known by its historic name, the Emanuel Harman Farm – is where major fighting occurred on the first day of battle on July 1, 1863.
“Gettysburg will always have a sacred place in America’s heritage for the pivotal role it played in our nation’s history and for the enormity of the sacrifice that took place here,” Secretary Salazar said. “With the addition of the Emanuel Harman Farm to the Gettysburg National Military Park, we are able to include another important chapter in the story that helped shape our country.”
Preserving important Gettysburg battlefields and providing more access to visitors is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to create a new conservation ethic for the 21st Century and to reconnect Americans to the natural world and their cultural and historic heritage, Salazar said.
“We should all bear witness to the events that occurred at Gettysburg and its role in American history,” said Senator Bob Casey. “Today’s announcement will ensure that future generations can come to Gettysburg to learn even more and reflect on what Lincoln called the ‘last full measure of devotion’ on display during the three day battle. I am pleased that the Secretary and the National Park Service are committed to its preservation.”
“The Gettysburg Battlefield is one of America’s most hallowed and sacred grounds,” said Congressman Todd Platts. “The preservation of the Harman Farm will further ensure that the epic story of bravery and devotion that unfolded at Gettysburg will continue to inspire Americans for generations to come.”
In 1863 the property was part of the historic Harman and Abraham Spangler farms where Confederate Brigades advanced and retreated during an attack on the Union positions on McPherson and Seminary Ridges. In the 1950’s the property was developed into the Gettysburg Country Club and operated as such until the club closed in 2008.
The National Park Service has tried for almost 20 years to acquire this property for preservation purposes; however, offers to the country club owners and the Susquehanna Bank (which foreclosed on the property in 2008) were declined. In March 2010, a developer bought the property and created a development concept plan for over 200 housing units.
The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting important places across America, worked to successfully negotiate an option with the developer to acquire fee title to a 95-acre portion of the land, and subsequently conveyed it to the Park Service. The developer also donated a height restriction easement on the remaining 14-acre parcel, which is occupied by two clubhouses, tennis courts, parking lots and two swimming pools.
“We are proud to assist the National Park Service with the acquisition of the Harman site where Confederate and Union troops first met at Gettysburg for what would become a decisive event in American history,” said Patrick F. Noonan, chairman emeritus of The Conservation Fund. “As the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War draws near, our joint endeavor not only enhances the protection of the Gettysburg battlefields but also honors in a fitting tribute all those who fought, died and participated in the struggle for a national identity.”
Salazar commended both The Conservation Fund and The Civil War Trust for their work to make the acquisition possible.
“Working closely with stakeholders in communities across America is at the heart of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative,” Salazar said. “Visitors who are now free to explore this hallowed ground can give thanks for the contributions of both of these organizations to preserving our national heritage.”
Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service that preserves and protects the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and provides an understanding of the events that occurred there within the context of American history.
Editor's note: To see the location of the acquired property, click on the Civil War Trust map of the first day's fighting below. The Harman Farm (country club) property is shown in yellow on that map.