Years ago, local non-profit Main Street Gettysburg, Inc. reached out to the community to ask a critical question: What is missing from this town? The answer was a resounding cry for an accessible spot containing information about Gettysburg—and a public bathroom.
Jill Sellers, Main Street Gettysburg’s President and CEO, oversees the project that will hopefully fulfill these requests, the Gettysburg Welcome Center. Sellers hopes that the center will become a place where Gettysburg residents can interact with tourists, visitors can learn about local history, and downtown businesses can gain publicity. “It’s going to be a nice, clean space that will have visitor information, event information, and tour information, to some degree,” she summarized.
The center, to be located at 340 Baltimore Street, will be placed neatly in the center of town so that tourists and locals alike can reach it easily. The building’s staff will be comprised of a small, knowledgeable group that can attend to anyone who might enter, and Sellers hopes to incorporate town guides and volunteer positions as well. Information presented in the center will cater to tourists and locals alike, spotlighting upcoming events in Gettysburg and increasing publicity for its venues. Additionally, the center will provide maps to help people navigate the town with the goal of introducing all that Gettysburg has to offer to everyone who arrives.
The project aims to promote more than just economic growth, however. The Gettysburg Welcome Center will contain historical artifacts and details about the town, highlighting not only its indispensable role in the Civil War but also its progression from a small, rural village into the bustling landscape familiar to its residents. “We’re working with the Gettysburg Foundation and Adams County Historical Society to make sure that we’re telling a story,” said Sellers.
“My real hope is that it’s going to provide an anchor in the center of the historic district,” Sellers said. Since so many attractions are packed into the busiest part of town—which is only about a mile from end to end—people can spend an entire day exploring the heart of Gettysburg, and Sellers expects the center to become a “gathering point” for such explorers. Furthermore, the project promotes environmentally conscious tourism by making the entire historic district more accessible to foot traffic: if there is a public bathroom situated within walking distance of most stores, fewer people will have to drive in and out of town repeatedly while touring.
The center’s opening date “depends entirely on funding,” Sellers said. Main Street Gettysburg has been raising money for the Welcome Center since 2018, and recently contacted the U.S. Congressional Appropriations Committee to ask for a federal grant. Should Main Street Gettysburg receive this funding, construction could begin in January of 2024, and the center would open by 2026 at the latest.
Community members can contribute to the project at mainstreetgettysburg.org or by attending the 2023 Giving Spree, where Main Street Gettysburg is #65. The in-person Giving Spree event takes place on November 9 at Gettysburg Area Middle School.
“This community has already been incredibly generous,” said Sellers. “It’s just amazing to me, the people that see and share their love of this community.”
Rebekah Reaver is a senior at Gettysburg Area High School who is
honored to be interning with the Gettysburg Connection. They have been
a Gettysburg resident for 9 years and enjoy writing opinion pieces
along with free verse poems.