Greetings from Andersonville National Historic Site.
Greetings from Andersonville. There are times when everything just works; we are grateful for a highly successful year so far. The year started during the holidays when The Friends of Andersonville, AXPOW, Bennett International/Taylor Foundation and Truist Bank came together to honor our veterans in a big way for Wreaths Across America. We had roughly 2,000 attendees and laid 20,300 wreaths in 15 minutes! Our most attended event in recent memory.
We continue to add staff through numerous NPS funded projects and Inflation Reduction Act funding. Most recently we hired a horticulturist who will be working on national cemetery projects over the next 4 years. The NPS has recently focused on the condition of its 14 national cemeteries and Andersonville National Cemetery is leading restoration efforts. We are focusing on the condition of the trees, new plantings, turf, and restoration of monuments this year. We will also be developing a Preservation Maintenance Plan that will serve as a month by month “to do list” for staff and this will become the template for the other 13 NPS national cemeteries. We hope to be well along in our work to recontour and open the large section in the southeast corner of the cemetery by this time next year.
Visitation is up 52% from last year: we attribute most of this to school trips and staff rides which have picked up significantly. The National Park Foundation funded an intern to work on the “Women Who Saved Andersonville”. Our intern developed impressive new Women’s Relief Corp displays for the museum as well as an interpretive program on this topic. We are in the process of hiring a permanent museum technician to help with the curatorial workload and allow us to change temporary exhibits more frequently. Staff are working diligently to prepare for the April anniversary event advertised in this newsletter and our annual Memorial Day event. Follow us on Facebook for additional programs to be given throughout April.
We will be removing the metal fencing along highway 49 and replacing it with spilt rail except at the funeral entrance. We believe this will allow us to maintain a better appearance since the fence is always getting hit by cars and wildlife. We are also working towards renovations to the museum restrooms, a new HVAC system, and the replacement of the internal working of the water feature at the museum. We expect we will need to close the museum for a short time during the HVAC installation. We are focused on minimizing any closure time and look forward to being able to control the humidity in the museum to preserve artifacts.
The picnic area shelter project is moving slowly but it is moving; we have had an accessibility assessment and a design contract is being let shortly. We are so grateful for the continued support of the Friends as we work to meet the park mission. I hope to see many of you on April 22nd.