State News

March 9, 2014

Gettysburg wax museum selling historical figures

A life-sized animatronic Abe Lincoln is among the historical figures and tableau scenes from a Gettysburg wax museum set to hit the auction block just months after the town celebrated the 150th anniversary of his “Gettysburg Address.”

The American Civil War Wax Museum has occupied a prime spot near the center of the battlefield for more than half a century. But it recently underwent an extensive renovation and wants to take a new approach to history. As part of those changes, it is preparing to unload dozens of its historical figures — most made of vinyl, not wax — in what the auctioneer calls a once-in-a-lifetime sale.

The March 15 auction will also feature diorama contents, tapestries, furniture and books. The items include soldiers, a Southern plantation scene and the Lincoln-Douglas debates’ stop in 1858 at Knox College. Also for sale is an enormous reproduction of Gilbert Stuart’s 1796 portrait of George Washington, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

When the wax museum reopens later this year as the Gettysburg Heritage Center, its focus will have shifted to the experience of town residents before, during and after the July 1863 battle between the Confederates under Gen. Robert E. Lee and the federal troops commanded by Gen. George Gordon Meade.

“The Park Service does a fabulous job of telling the story about the battle,” said Tammy Myers, who runs the facility for FutureStake Inc. “We don’t all need to be telling the same story.”

The company estimates 9 million people have walked through the wax museum since it opened in 1962, shortly before the centennial of the battle.

While much of what those visitors saw will be auctioned off, the plan is to preserve the scene from Pickett’s Charge depicted inside the theater but revamp the presentation that accompanies it. Myers said there are also plans to repurpose a few of the life-sized figures for a new exhibit on the Underground Railroad.

The business changed hands about seven months ago and closed down two months ago for the construction project, which gutted most of the building’s interior. The new attraction will have more interactive activities for children, including short videos about 19th-century life in Gettysburg, a thriving transportation hub with three weekly newspapers and gas streetlights.

Among the many businesses that serve the Gettysburg tourism trade, some have been taking a look at their operations these days, now that the 150th anniversary of the battle and Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” has passed, said Carl Whitehill with Destination Gettysburg.

The wax museum has been a mainstay of the central Pennsylvania town’s tourist trek for decades, Whitehill said.

“It’s a place that our visitors have become quite familiar with,” Whitehill said. “It was certainly due for change. It’s quite an anchor there, on one of our busiest streets.”

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • One charged in death of Dalton woman, another sought

    A Dalton woman found dead in Calhoun earlier this month is believed to have died of a drug overdose after two Calhoun residents abandoned her in a car behind the VFW on East Line Street, Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department said Wednesday afternoon.

    June 18, 2014

  • Guard shot at FedEx center to undergo 14th surgery

    A security guard critically wounded when a gunman went on a rampage at a FedEx facility is scheduled to undergo his 14th operation Tuesday.

    May 27, 2014

  • Arson ruled out as cause of chemical plant fire

    Police say investigators have been able to rule out arson or foul play as the cause of a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles.

    May 27, 2014

  • Teen tied to shopping cart drowns in lake

    Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say a teen has died after being tied to a shopping cart and pushed into Lake Allatoona.

    May 25, 2014

  • Underground tattoo artists frustrate officials

    The work of tattoo artists whose living rooms double as body art studios might come cheap, but experts say the unsterile -- and illegal -- work environments could leave clients in pain long after the initial sting of the needle subsides.

    May 25, 2014

  • No runoff lets Republicans focus on Rep. Barrow

    While Georgia Republicans have to wait until July to settle runoff races for the U.S. Senate and three open House seats, one of the biggest GOP victories in the primary elections last week went to Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen.

    May 25, 2014

  • Audit probes juvenile justice turnover rate

    A state audit cites low pay, long hours and management concerns as reasons for a relatively high turnover rate at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

    May 25, 2014

  • Atlanta schools ex-tech director to be sentenced

    After his relationship with the superintendent of Atlanta’s school system soured, a former technology director for the district set up a kickback scheme to pad his pockets before he left his job, according to court documents.

    May 24, 2014

  • Georgia veteran, 92, honored at surprise ceremony

    Family and friends surprised a 92-year-old World War II veteran from Georgia on Memorial Day by honoring him and presenting him with the World War II Victory Medal.

    May 24, 2014

  • Police: Massive chemical plant fire extinguished

    Authorities say a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles has been extinguished.

    May 24, 2014