The Campaign to Save Richard Neutra's
Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg

Sign on to Save!


Our Mission
News & Documents
History & Photos
December 12th, 2005

Chris Madrid French
2522 Willard Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903-4231


Dear Ms. French,

I am writing to support your efforts to save the Gettysburg Cyclorama Center that has been slated for demolition by the federal government. By choosing to save this landmark building, the government will demonstrate a commitment to preserving an architectural, historical, and artistically-significant link to the past. Moreover, we will retain an important link to the Age of Cyclorama painting, an art form to which the building can claim heredity.

The medium’s phenomenal popularity throughout the 1880s and early 1890s led to the construction of cyclorama buildings in cities across North America and Europe, including Chicago, Boston, Buffalo, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Toronto, St. Anne de Beupre (Quebec), London, and Paris.

The Battle of Gettysburg was displayed in 1889 in Toronto, Canada, one of three cyclorama paintings to be shown in the Toronto Cyclorama Building. My own research has focussed on the importance of this building here in Toronto, and the lessons that we can learn from its sad demise. Like the Gettysburg Cyclorama Center, commercial and development pressures soon overshadowed the building’s importance. Although it had been an integral part of the international circuit of cycloramas, the Toronto Cyclorama Building was eventually sold, becoming a factory, a car dealership, and finally ending its days as a parking garage. In 1972, the building was seized by the City of Toronto and subsequently demolished. It is now lost forever, its tombstone a large, non-descript conference center in Toronto’s downtown.

My research into the Toronto Cyclorama Building has given me insight into the historical gap that was left behind after its demolition. The building is completely unknown to nearly every Toronto citizen and historian with whom I have spoken - even those who were alive when the Cyclorama Building stood at the heart of downtown Toronto. Only one or two history books mention it and almost no photographs of the building exist. It seems that the result of destroying the building itself has affected much more than the real estate; by destroying the building, a crucial link to Toronto’s past was irrevocably broken.

However, there is a positive lesson that we can take from this loss. We have now gained the insight needed to preserve buildings such as the Toronto Cyclorama and the Gettysburg Cyclorama Center, to see beyond the present and to preserve architecture that connects us to our past. The cyclorama buildings and the paintings they housed represent this kind of important historical link. That is why I add my voice to those of the World Monuments Fund and the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects among others, calling on the federal government to put a stop to the demolition of this irreplaceable piece of history.


Original signed by

Graham F. Watts, MA (English)
Researcher, Toronto Cyclorama
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Our Mission
News & Documents
History & Photos

This site composed and administered by Christine Madrid French 2004.