Seminary Ridge Historic    Preservation Foundation

 Preserving the Legacies of Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania     



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Historic pathway for Seminary Ridge --  Trail and Trailhead

Summary Description of the Design of the Western Gateway Project
Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg, PA
Scenic Byways, Journey Through Hallowed Ground Program

The Seminary and the Adams County Historical Society are engaged in the most important historical rehabilitation in a generation, including the creation of an historical pathway to help visitors see and understand the historic, religious and literary legacies of Seminary Ridge.

The project includes the rehabilitation of Schmucker Hall and its adaptive reuse as a state of the art museum interpreting the first day of the Battle of
Gettysburg as well as its role as the largest fixed field hospital in the theatre and the underlying religious, moral and ethical tensions of the 19th century
that were pulling the nation and its churches apart.

This page focuses upon the historic pathway and the increased parking to support the new Seminary Ridge Museum and existing public venues (Chapel,
Refectory, Library, Valentine Hall).   It includes the issues faced by the seminary on sightlines within the view sheds, historical features and needs of the continuing campus of the graduate and professional theological school.

Location: Western side of Seminary Ridge, on the campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
Nature and scope of the project: This project completes the historic walking trail begun on the eastern side of Seminary Ridge and provides a trailhead for that multiuse path, drop off and safer traffic pattern. It re organizes and expands parking, and creates a safe place for bus and Freedom Transit to drop off and pick up riders.
Grant source: Scenic Byways program of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground historic corridor

Guiding Principle's in approach to historical preservation and view shed protection:
The Seminary's Master Plan was developed in the mid 1990's in consultation with the National Park Service
(reaffirmed by the Seminary in 2003) with viewsheds marked for preservation. This planning included research into the Brady photographs of the marked viewsheds, and did not include the removal of the tennis courts. The curb cut in the new intersection revealed future expected development. This version of the parking was modified to increase the preservation of the feel of the grove as much as the present plan. 

Seminary: "We were and continue to be guided by the GNMP emphasis on viewsheds"
From the park staff: "In the case when control of the height of a woodland is crucial to interpretation, removal of taller trees will be completed. Witness trees will be protected…. Other trees that block critical observation, important views or fields of fire will be cut …." From Treatment Philosophy: the 1863 Landscape, published March 2004.

Below is a sketch of the pathway, the eastern part of which is under construction now in the fall of 2012:


Benefits of this development:
-- It lowers the parking density in the grove:
There will be a decrease in the number of parking spaces in the Seminary Grove from approximately 68 now
to 34 – creating multiple islands of green space more than 35 feet wide;

-- Adds significantly to vehicle and pedestrian safety:
Moves a curb cut and relocates pedestrian traffic to an intersection, added in 2001,
which significantly calmed traffic and will focus pedestrian crossing where traffic is
stopped; walking pathway is ADA compliant, opening up a walking historical experience
for all persons in the place where it happened

-- Creates green space:
to create opportunity to plant more than twice the number of trees – several of which
are showing the end of their life-cycle;

-- Removes the non-historic tennis courts:

A highly visually distracting feature will be removed;

-- Opportunity to recreate a portion of the barricade, west of the Ridge:

assembled to help interpret the last stand of the Union forces on July 1, 1863, giving
the public an interpretation (wayside #9 addresses this feature) it has never had before;

-- Adds trees:
The development cuts non-witness trees and plants up to twice the number there now –
some of which will be consistent with the Journey Through Hallowed Ground signature
planting program to plant 620,000 trees in the corridor, one for every civil war casualty

--Overall improvement of the view shed:
Trees now obscure Schmucker Hall from the west, making for a new and more historic
view with new planting plan. Plans do not include suburbanized planting scheme or
auto tire stops for parking areas, maintaining the natural character of the landscape;

--Addresses Parking Needs:
With the added public interpretive venue of the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum,
Parking capacity will be added but in hidden areas behind the library and out of view
from the Seminary Ridge and Reynolds Avenue; current seminary programming exceeds
parking capacity several times a year, and museum is expected to attract upwards of 60
thousand or more visitors.

Preservation of sightlines:

brady photo
Current photo from the Ridge reveals complete obscuring of Schmucker Hall


Architect's Rendering of the viewshed of the land development, west from Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg -- initial planting and in a decade:


Consensus: the seminary needs more parking:

Cars parking on grass and on tennis courts in background during event in chapel venue, May of 2012



  Visit the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg Website

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Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation 
61 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, PA 17325
Tel. 717-338-3030    Fax:  717-334-3469

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