Last night, my best friend Jessie and I attended the "sneak peak" of the new Visitor Center. There was free food everywhere; alas we had not counted on this and had already eaten. Another thing that was everywhere: people! And they were all "locals" (or were supposed to be). Though they didn't keep track, it was estimated in the Evening Sun today that well over 1,000 attended the event. And out of all of the people there, I knew about five of them, mostly people involved with the train station. It made me feel special and "connected" nevertheless.
The Refreshment Saloon
We entered the VC from the back. This leads you into the "Refreshment Saloon." How they decided on that name, I have no clue. It's a little snack bar area with plenty of seating. Right next to the "Saloon" is a small store selling jellies, sauces, and other pantry-type items.
The Main Lobby
The main lobby is large, much larger than the one at the old VC (obviously). There are benches by some picture windows and a few in front of a set of screens, introducing the park. The front desk is also a major improvement from the old VC, with several screens on the wall behind advertising things such as the battlefield guides and the film they show at the center (which we did not get a chance to see, unfortunately, due to time constraints, but Tina Grim from the college said it was "good" and that she was "pleased with it"). It kind of reminded me of an airport.
The museum is pretty state-of-the-art (which I think was the goal). It reminds me of the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, although a bit nicer. There are more panels, quotes, interactive stations (Jessie and I spelled dirty words in semaphore because we are just that mature), and film clips than artifacts, which I kind of dislike. I know that people aren't going to read every single word and watch every film. Still, it's a nice museum. And it's big - eleven rooms. The layout was kind of confusing, especially with the large crowd.
The Book Store
I was impressed. It's a very nice shop, filled with the usual t-shirts, hats, mugs, &c., but also some rarer items such as Coventry Pewter, spoon jewelry (really neat!), and just a general assortment of items I've never seen (and I used to work at the largest gift shop in Gettysburg, so I've seen a lot of stuff). It also has a shelf full of Vermont-related stuff - maple leaf-shaped candies, mostly - which is sort of confusing to me... can anyone explain? As far as books, it seems like they have all of the major titles (except of course, for Shades of Gray, but we're hoping to change that soon). I find it interesting that they decided to have a "Southern" section.
What Jessie Says
"The stonework is nice, and I love the wooden touches that make it seem more rustic. It doesn't feel out of place on the battlefield, but still has modern touches that make it much better than the old one. I'm looking forward to spending more time in there, and also to the things that will be added as they finish working on it."
What I Say
Well, it's definitely nice and definitely a gigantic improvement. I will either be working or volunteering there soon, so I am going to be spending a lot of time in the VC. And I can't think of many places in Gettysburg that are nicer, so I'm pretty happy.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot
Welcome to Ten Roads! This blog is intended to be a place for me to share my (generally Civil War-related) thoughts and experiences. I try to update once a week at the very least. All comments and readers are greatly appreciated!