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Lomas Center Civil War Museum opens in Gettysburg

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.

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Leon Reed is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a five year resident of Gettysburg, where he volunteers with SCCAP and at the Resource Room at the park visitor center; writes military history; and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, a board member of Adams County Habitat for Humanity, and is chairing the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 4 cats, and 5 grandchildren.

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    • One way to get there is to start down the alley that runs from South St, behind Farnsworth House. Just after you pass the Farnsworth parking lots, you’ll see a sign pointing to the right directing you up an alley. It’s the hefty brick building at the end. I’m sure there’s an easier way to get there from Washington St. but I’ve never come from that direction.

  • Besides the two ordnance rifles there is the 12lb Napoleon of Battery B 1st RILA That was silence during the cannonade prior tomPicketts Chsrge. This gun on its original carriage sits as a memorial in the Rhode Island state house.

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