200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Birth

200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Birth

Waynesboro: The Waynesboro Historical Society will mark the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth with a free program about Gettysburg's newest museum, the David Wills House - the first museum to tell the story of the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Gettysburg and the place where Lincoln completed his famous Gettysburg Address.
Dr. Walter Powell, the executive director of the Conococheague Institute Museum and Library in Welsh Run, will present the program at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, in the Hess Room at Minnich Manor on the grounds of Quincy Village. His topic will be "Lincoln Slept Here: Abraham Lincoln, David Wills and the Evolution of a Gettysburg Shrine."
The program will include light refreshments and is open to the public.
Powell is uniquely qualified to discuss the new National Park Service Museum, since he served as the Borough of Gettysburg's representative on the National Park Service team that has just completed the $7.2 million restoration of the Wills House, located at 8 Lincoln Square in downtown Gettysburg.
Before joining the Conococheague Institute, Powell worked for 17 years as director of planning and historic preservation for the Borough of Gettysburg, where he directed the restoration of the historic Gettysburg Railroad Station, built in 1858.
He holds a master's degree in history and a doctorate in American literature from Kent State University and has lectured widely on the colonial period and the American Civil War.
The ribbon-cutting for the museum is scheduled the same day as Powell's talk to commemorate what would have been Lincoln's 200th birthday.
After the battle in July 1863, "Gettysburg became a vast hospital and morgue, where dead and wounded soldiers outnumbered civilians 11 to 1." So begins the exhibit at the David Wills House, where Lincoln put the finishing touches on his famous Gettysburg Address in November 1863. The speech transformed Gettysburg from a place of sorrow to the symbol of the nation's new birth of freedom.
"The home of Wills, a prominent citizen of Gettysburg, became ground zero in Gettysburg's recovery effort, with Wills himself fulfilling the roles of the CDC, the Red Cross and FEMA combined," says Dr. John A. Latschar, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park.
Two rooms have been restored to their 1863 appearance: Wills' office, where he received letters from families looking for their loved ones and began planning for the cemetery and its dedication, and the second-floor bedroom where Lincoln stayed and prepared to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
Main Street Gettysburg will operate the museum in partnership with the National Park Service. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Quincy Village, where Powell will present his talk, is located on Route 997 north of Waynesboro. For more information about the Feb. 12 program, call Helen Shelley, the Waynesboro Historical Society's program chairman, at 765-0191.