Thompson House (1834) - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 50.096 W 077° 14.708
18S E 307886 N 4411848
Quick Description: Built in 1834, this stone house that General Robert E. Lee occupied during the battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863 was turned into a museum in 1922, making it one of the first such places in Gettysburg.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 6/9/2011 5:44:27 AM
Waymark Code: WMBP9Z
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Dragontree
Views: 4

Long Description:

This picturesque, one and a half story stone house was built in 1834 and at the time of the Civil War was owned by the noted statesman Thaddeus Stevens. It was on July 1, 1863 that General Robert E. Lee established his personal headquarters in this old stone house. An ideal location, it was at the center and rear of his battle lines and it was on the same road that many more of his troops were quickly approaching.

At the time of the battle, the house was the dwelling place of Mrs. Mary Thompson, who was known by the residents of Gettysburg simply as the "Widow" Thompson. She was not excited about having her house occupied by a "Rebel," but she "…testifies that the gentlemanly deportment of General Lee whilst in her house, but complains bitterly of the robbery and general destruction of her goods by some of his attendants."

In the Spring of 1922 the house was opened to the public as the Lee Museum by Mr. C. F. Daley who began displaying artifacts and relics found on the battlefield and brought back to town by visiting veterans. Since that time, the museum has been in continuous operation and remains one of the oldest museums in Gettysburg.

At the time of the battle of Gettysburg, the Thompson house was probably a duplex. The eastern side of the house was occupied during the period of the battle, while the western side was occupied by the widow Thompson. While the battle raged outside, Mrs. Thompson and her daughter-in-law with two small children probably sought shelter in the cellar beneath the house. Lee's staff chose this house not only because of this close proximity to the center of the Confederate line, but also because the house with its thick wall afforded the General some physical protection from artillery shells.

There is some controversy as to whether this was the actual headquarters of Lee. Across the road is a peach orchard which is said to also been the headquarters of Lee in the form of tents. There is a monument there which marks the spot. Some believe his men were there and he stayed in the house. Even though the widow's house is commonly referred to as Lee’s headquarters, and even though it was the center of fierce fighting on July 1, 1863, the Thompson property was never purchased by the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, the War Department, or the National Park Service.

Today it is privately owned and operates as the General Lee’s Headquarters Museum and charges admission for non-Adams County residents. It operates in partnership with the adjacent Quality Inn, which rents the second story to visitors as the “General Lee Suite.” I parked in a small area off the side of the road to visit all the monuments as well as the museum. You can also park in the hotel's parking lot as well. Besides the museum, there is lots to do and see here in this immediate area. After all, it is the Lincoln Highway.

Earliest Recorded Date of Construction: 1/1/1834

Architectural Period/Style: 19th century Farm House

Type of Building e.g. Country House, Stately Home, Manor:
Farm House

Interesting Historical Facts or Connections:
Headquarters of General Lee during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 - 3, 1863

Main Material of Construction: Stone

Private/Public Access: Private

Admission Fee (if applicable): 5.00 (listed in local currency)

Related Website: [Web Link]


Additional Dates of Construction: Not listed

Architect (if known): Not listed

Landscape Designer (if known): Not listed

Listed Building Status (if applicable): Not listed

Opening Hours (if applicable): Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Tell us about your visit with any details of interest about the property. Please supply at least one original photograph from a different aspect taken on your current visit.
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