Sunday, March 11, 2012

Items From Adams County Pennsylvania

An Icon of Adams County

In 1832 the economy was sound and the location of the town allowed easy access from a wide geographic area.  The need for the services the firm offered, had steadily increased.  These were the major factors that caused the enterprise to thrive. 

Practically from the beginning, they knew their original facility was too small to accommodate the number of people they would have. The building was woefully inadequate but lack of funding blocked expansion.

In  February 1834, the legislature, with the support of Thaddeus Stevens, provided funding for $18,000 over a six-year time frame.  In April1835, the institution purchased six acres of land on the north side of Gettysburg on the top of a small prominence amidst the open terrain, for their new building.

The designer of the building was architect and engineer John Trautwine.  It may have been the largest building in Gettysburg at that time,  measuring 150 feet long by 50 feet wide and was 4 stories high with a cupola centered on the roof.  It was Greek Revival in style sporting a portico on the south side of the structure, complete with four Doric columns.  Construction began in April of 1836 and it was completed in the fall of 1837. 

The Edifice, as it would be called, now had room for its enrollees.  It had classrooms, dining hall, staff offices, library, chapel and rooms for the steward and his family.  In the near future additional buildings were added to the institution.  Linnaean Hall was added in 1847 and the White House was added in 1860.  There were also some other support buildings on the grounds which included a springhouse, smokehouse, oven, stable, washhouse and privies.

The events of July 1, 1863, turned the institution upside town.  First, signalmen from the Union Army interrupted activities inquiring about and briefly occupying the cupola.  Because of the chaos, business was suspended until further notice.  By nightfall, members of the Confederate Army occupied the building from top to bottom.

During the battle the Edifice was used as a Confederate hospital, housing up to about 700 soldiers.  It remained a hospital well after the battle ended.  One person visiting the building during this time reported the rooms and halls full of wounded soldiers.  Moans shrieks and cries could be heard throughout the building and the sight of blood was evident on the floors and on books that were temporarily used as pillows. 

The dead were placed in temporary graves dug adjacent to the Edifice.  The bodies would be removed after a period of time but bits of human bone were periodically found in the area.  The last pieces found were in 1937, when the Beachem portico was added to the north side of the building.

The Edifice, the Old Dorm, or Pennsylvania Hall had survived the Battle of Gettysburg.  The building survived the institution changing its name from Pennsylvania College to Gettysburg College in 1921. It also survived a renovation, rather than a demolition, from 1969 to 1970, which transformed the building from an academic building into an administrative building. 

This iconic building and its hallowed halls was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972.

The American flag atop the cupola of Pennsylvania Hall flies twenty-four seven and is a thirty-four star flag as it was in 1863. 

When you visit Gettysburg. please take time to walk the Old Quad at Gettysburg College and personally view, "Yonder beautiful and stately college edifice."

Pennsylvania Hall - view from the Old Quad, south side.

The Cupola with the thirty-four star flag flying.

The north side of Pennsylvania Hall showing the Beachem Portico.

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