In Gettysburg, where much of the tourist infrastructure is aging, it is a very welcome event when a brand new, first-rate, historic attraction opens. The Lomas Center museum, located at 50 Mayor Alley, behind the Farnsworth House promises to become a significant stop on the circuit for history-minded visitors.
A private museum operated by the Lomas and Saum Foundation, the center displays the collection of George Lomas, a lifelong re-enactor, history buff, and major collector of military articles. Lomas was the founder and operator of the Steinwher Ave. shop, the Regimental Quartermaster.
Matthew Hewson, curator of the museum, said “Mr. Lomas was one of the most significant collectors and we’re very happy to be able to present it to a broader audience.”
The pride of the collection is a 3″ ordnance rifle, one of only two artillery pieces in existence documented to have been fired during the battle. (The other one sits at the base of the John Buford monument along Chambersburg Pike in the national park). Lomas’s field piece was in service along Chambersburg Pike, was captured when Union forces retreated at the end of the day July 1, and was recaptured back at Spotsylvania the following year. The museum staff is working to document where it went and what it did during its year of service with Lee’s army.
Also impressive is a musket and rifle collection spanning the entire time frame of American small arms manufacture from the 18th century to Vietnam. In the words of curator Hewson, the collection has “a very good example of just about every primary weapon the US or CS forces used …. it does a good job of showing the evolution” of US weaponry.
There are other discoveries to be made here, as well. Among other things, there is a large collection of original drawings by George Woodbridge, who was a friend and fellow re-enactor with George Lomas. Woodbridge was the dean of illustrators of Civil War Uniforms and was also a cartoonist for 30 years for MAD magazine and Marvel comics. He developed the first illustrated, comic book civil war stories that are the precursor of today’s graphic novels.
Another attraction is a working model 1875 Gatling gun. “They had worked the bugs out of this model and it was pretty effective.” said Hewson.
With a Gala Opening planned over the Dedication Day weekend in November, museum is already open Thursday through Sunday.
Admission to the museum is free.