Explore Four Battlefield Structures During Doors Open Gettysburg

The Abraham Brian house will be one of four historic structures open to Gettysburg National Military Park visitors in May/NPS file

“Doors Open Gettysburg” offers an insider’s look at the history of four magnificent battlefield and farm structures at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

This free event is held during National Historic Preservation Month in cities and towns throughout the United States and internationally.

On May 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, National Park Service staff will open four historic structures on the Gettysburg battlefield to the public for a rare look inside. The selected buildings range from those newly restored to those in need of repair. Visitors will be able to explore the Abraham Brian House; the Lydia Leister House—Meade’s Headquarters; and the Jacob Hummelbaugh House. The American Battlefield Trust will also open the Mary Thompson House—Lee’s Headquarters as part of the Doors Open event on May 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Doors Open Gettysburg highlights the park’s important historic preservation mission and the stories these buildings can tell,” said Gettysburg Superintendent Kristina Heister. “This event is a great opportunity for our community and park visitors to learn more about Gettysburg and how we take care of these resources.”

Abraham Brian House: Visitors can explore the home of Abraham Brian and his family. A member of Gettysburg’s African American community, he fled the area with his family prior to the battle only to return to find his home in ruins. Park on Hancock Avenue and in the National Cemetery Parking Lot. National Park Service preservation experts recently restored the biaxal roof on this historic home. This distinctive roofing style, which had largely vanished by the 20th century, is also found on the nearby Lydia Leister House.

Lydia Leister House—Meade’s Headquarters: Home of the widow Lydia Leister and her children, the two-room structure became the Headquarters of the Union Army of the Potomac. General George G. Meade held his famous “Council of War” here on the evening of July 2, 1863. Park in the National Cemetery Parking Lot or along Hancock Avenue. Like the Brian Farm, the biaxal roofing was recently returned to this historic structure, restoring a character defining feature of one of the most historic buildings on the battlefield.

Jacob Hummelbaugh House: Used as a field hospital and rallying point on July 2, 1863. Confederate General William Barksdale died and was temporarily buried in the yard. The Hummelbaugh House will be rehabilitated and stabilized in 2024. Park on Sedgwick or Hancock Avenue. Do not park on Pleasanton Avenue.

Mary Thompson House—Lee’s Headquarters: Rehabilitated and restored by the American Battlefield Trust, this famous battlefield landmark was used by Confederate General Robert E. Lee during the battle. Park in the designated lot at the Mary Thompson House.Please note that the buildings are not wheelchair accessible. No tickets or reservations are necessary for Doors Open Gettysburg. The event is free.

Also beginning on Saturday, May 11, the David Wills House will open for the season.

David Wills House: The home of Gettysburg attorney David Wills was the center of the immense clean-up process after the Battle of Gettysburg and where President Lincoln put the finishing touches on his Gettysburg Address. The museum features six galleries, including two rooms that have been restored to their 1863 appearance: Wills’ office, where he planned for a Soldiers’ National Cemetery after the battle; and the bedroom where Lincoln stayed and prepared the Gettysburg Address. Admission to the David Wills House is free. Open Friday-Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm.

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