Award Type: Honor Award
As superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park, John Latschar leads the ongoing effort to preserve and interpret one of America's best-known historic sites. Prior to Latschar's appointment as superintendent in 1994, a succession of park managers had tried in vain for more than 25 years to complete a General Management Plan for the park. Today, thanks to Latschar's efforts and partnerships he's forged with local community leaders, a plan is in place that's making a difference. A year ago, a new $103 million museum and visitor center opened, developed in partnership with the nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation. The 139,000-square-foot facility houses the meticulously restored Gettysburg Cyclorama, a massive 1880s painting that vividly portrays the terror and carnage of the three bloodiest days in American history.
In addition to his work guiding the development of the new visitor center, Latschar has undertaken an ambitious battlefield rehabilitation program, including replacing missing fence lines, orchards and farm lanes and restoring open fields and woodlands that played important roles in the battle. Latschar's reach extends well beyond the borders of the battlefield and into the community of Gettysburg, where he has been credited with spurring revitalization of local treasures, including the David Wills House, the home where President Lincoln stayed the night before delivering the Gettysburg Address.
"John Latschar's contributions to historic preservation cannot be overstated. His work has preserved and rehabilitated Gettysburg's sacred ground and transformed the experience of visiting the battlefield for millions of annual visitors," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Through his leadership at Gettysburg, he is saving one of America's most important historic treasures and serving as a model for many more."