American Battlefield Trust hopes to purchase General Pickett’s Buffet

In the first major land preservation action in the core area of the of the Gettysburg battlefield since the 2003 demolition of the Home Sweet Home Motel, the American Battlefield Trust (ABT) plans to purchase the site of General Pickett’s Buffet Restaurant located on the southern edge of Gettysburg at 571 Steinwehr Avenue. The site is also home to the Gettysburg Battlefield Theater.

The ABT, formerly known as the Civil War Trust, is a charitable organization that has acquired and preserved over 50,000 acres of battlefields of the American Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

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“For generations, this half-acre property that played a major role in Pickett’s Charge has been compromised by commercial development, operating as a restaurant, theater, and gift shop known as General Pickett’s Buffet. Now, the long-time owner has decided to retire and give the Trust the opportunity to buy and restore the property,” said an announcement on the ABT website

General Pickett’s is a longtime popular restaurant that has provided meals to untold numbers of bus tourists. But it was also one of the most intrusive commercial presences on the battlefield, plainly visible by any visitor standing at the Angle or leaving the National Cemetery from the Taneytown Rd. exit, for example. It is also land where pivotal action of Pickett’s Charge took place.

The move drew high marks from historians and preservationists.

“When George Pickett tried to rally his men for their charge across the field toward the Union line, he certainly said, ‘Some day, future generations will honor your courage and sacrifice on this battlefield with an all-you-can-eat buffet!’ Of course he didn’t—but that’s part of what has made General Pickett’s Buffet such a surreal part of the Gettysburg landscape,” said Chris Mackowski, author of five books on Gettysburg. “It has become such a well-known landmark, but it’s jarring in its juxtaposition. Reclaiming that part of the battlefield, in the context of the reclamation that has gone on directly across the street, will help restore the hallowed nature of the ground where this fabled story took place.”

Mackowski said he was speaking as an individual.

“It is hard to think of a more important parcel on the battlefield to be preserved. This is a natural follow-up to the acquisition and reclamation of the adjacent Home Sweet Home motel property two decades ago,” said licensed guide and author Ralph Siegel, who said he was speaking as an individual.

It is likely that this property will be transferred to the Gettysburg National Military Park once it has been cleared and rehabilitated.

Featured image from Google Maps.

Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.

 

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Art House
Art House
1 year ago

The critics fail to point out three things: (1) the owner of Pickett’s Buffet sought out the American Battlefield Trust to purchase his property (would they deny a property owner the right to sell to whom he chooses?); (2) new commercial construction in the borough is underway that will offset the loss of a lone taxable property, and (3), the buffet is relocating to the former Boyd’s Bears facility in Cumberland Township, where it will remain a taxable asset for the Gettysburg Area School District.

Michelle shepard
Michelle shepard
1 year ago

I am saddened by this as I was about losing Larson’s motel. I always go to the restaurant when I’m in Gettysburg, not just for the food and pleasant wait staff, but also the ambiance. The paintings alone are worth a fortune, and the whole atmosphere brings you back to Pickett’s time I’m sure as any open field might do. Sad to see it go!

Kwt
Kwt
1 year ago

Don’t understand why in the world a restaurant gift shop and theater was allowed to be put there in the first place very disrespectful to those who made the ultimate sacrifice no matter whose side they were on

Byron Nelson Henry
Byron Nelson Henry
1 year ago

Let’s do it.

John Seitter
John Seitter
1 year ago

Business as usual the Battlefield Trust not understanding the combination of Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism. Gettysburg has still not economically recovered from the purchase of Molly McDuffers and General Lee’s Headquarters. Preservation doesn’t help a historic resource, aka Gettysburg, unless it can contribute to the community’s well being.jrs

Mark Matousek
Mark Matousek
1 year ago
Reply to  John Seitter

We were just in Gettysburg a couple weeks ago, General Lees’s headquarters looks like an abandoned building. Good comment about Heritage Tourism and Historic preservation. How far do you go to restore to the original, one of the historical aspects of Gettysburg is the returning veterans and how they saw thier participation in history.

A W
A W
1 year ago

I sure hope the wonderful buffet and staff will stay the same !!!!
Every time something changes an already good thing .. it’s never the same …. The staff from the kitchen was just wonderful!! Food was excellent also … so was the price …..

Steve Niebler
Steve Niebler
1 year ago

Interesting how each new acquisition is always the “most important.” And we local folks get to pay as more properties are taken off the tax rolls. Look out, KFC, you’re next!

John R Seitter
John R Seitter
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Niebler

Exactly!

Wayne Grgurich
Wayne Grgurich
1 year ago

Fantastic news! Finally! Please consider a donation to the American Battlefield Trust to make this dream become a reality.

Gail Ann Serfass
Gail Ann Serfass
1 year ago
Reply to  Wayne Grgurich

Wonderful ..now my taxes will go up

John R Seitter
John R Seitter
1 year ago

Sadly yes. The loss of General Lee’s Motel was big blow to the town’s economy. General Pickett’s won’t help.

Laund, M
Laund, M
1 year ago
Reply to  John R Seitter

You are so right! Gettysburg has forgotten its residents and traded them for preserving more empty tax replete land shoving that tax burden to the residents. Walmart has been stopped in its growth process as so many other revenue generating businesses. Shame on Gettysburg controlling families!!

Frank
Frank
1 year ago

Two more cannons and a plaque on the way. 👍

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