In July 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg, the picturesque George Spangler Farmstead was transformed by the Union Army into an artillery staging area and the 11th Corps field hospital, which treated 1,900 soldiers over a four-week period.Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it took a decade of planning, preservation and restoration by the Gettysburg Foundation to rehabilitate an 80-acre piece of the Civil War into a living history museum and training center.
Following the Secretary of Interiors Standard for the Treatment of Historic Properties, Kinsley partnered with the Gettysburg Foundation and Warehaus, the project architect and preservationist, to restore the original four buildings on the Spangler property to their Civil War-era conditions.
Planning and Phasing of the George Spangler Farmstead Restoration Project
In 2012, a Historic Structure Report (HSR) was completed for all property structures on the farmstead. The HSR documented the farm’s existing condition and recommended options for treatment that preserved the significance and historic character of the site at the time of the Civil War. Restoring the farmstead to this period involved removing evidence of other time periods and recreating or restoring original materials of the property’s four buildings.
After the HSR review, we began work on the first building project – the summer kitchen – and replaced the interior floor, repointed the exterior stone facade and replaced a metal roof with historically appropriate cedar shake shingles. One of the project’s challenges was replacing the existing flooring substructure. It was ground bearing, so we excavated the area by hand. Kinsley worked with a team of archaeologists to search and sift the soil for any historically significant artifacts before preparing the site for the new floor.
Next, we began restoration on the bank barn and smokehouse in the fall of 2015. As the construction manager, we delivered substantial structural repairs and preservation of the structural timber framing and stone masonry. To match the bank barn’s 1863 appearance, we replaced the barn siding and installed cedar shake roofing. Original pieces of hardware were removed and replicated before being replaced, and replica parts were used where original parts were missing. Throughout the barn, brass tags indicate where new materials and hardware were installed to match the original elements.
In 2019, Kinsley completed the fourth building restoration project, turning the 4,300-square-foot, two-story stone farmhouse into a leadership training center.
We used the findings in the 2012 HSR to maintain the park service easement on the exterior of the house including appropriate window and trim profiles, pointing style, and the reconstruction of the original porch and roofing details. In addition, before construction of the farmhouse, Warehaus performed a Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey to look for historically significant items in and around the house. They reviewed period photos and other records, and based on their findings, we constructed a fence that would have been on the property at the time of the Civil War.
To retrofit the interior space for ADA compliance and modern plumbing, the entire house, except for one door frame, was gutted down to the original stone wall and foundation. Our scope of work to stabilize, restore and renovate the farmhouse included:
- Removing the existing timber and installing new framing
- Stabilizing the stone walls with shotcrete
- Pouring concrete foundation
- Resetting and installing new windows
- Constructing a new kitchen and several bathrooms
- Performing the finish carpentry
- Installing a new septic system
- Installing a sprinkler system
- Upgrading the electrical service
- Installing one sidewalk
We are proud to have played a part in introducing this Civil War story to visitors worldwide and restoring this piece of history. We’d like to thank the Gettysburg Foundation, Warehaus and the entire project team for helping us deliver these beautiful, historic projects.