Grant Park Considers Forming Group to Support Keeping Cyclorama

Residents want to keep Civil War landmark in neighborhood.

GRANT PARK — The Battle of Atlanta was a significant turning point in the American Civil War.

Fought 149 years ago, it resulted in the deaths of 12,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

It is commemorated at the Cyclorama, home to the world's largest oil painting, which depicts the decisive fight that occurred across several southeast Atlanta neighborhoods.

But Grant Park has been gearing up for what may be another big battle to keep the Cyclorama, located just a steps away from Zoo Atlanta from being moved out of the neighborhood.

Unlike the zoo, which has seen its attendance steadily increase each year and projects its visitor count will cross the 1 million mark by 2015, the Cyclorama hasn't enjoyed the same success.

The city, which created a task force a couple of years ago to look at boosting the Cyclorama's viability, is weighing if relocating it somewhere else would make a difference.

Noting its ties to Southeast Atlanta, Grant Park residents say it should stay put.

Atlanta City Councilwoman Carla Smith, whose district includes the neighborhood, suggested at Tuesday meeting of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association that residents form a "Friends of Cyclorama" group to coordinate those efforts.

Other neighborhoods have similar groups formed to advocate for their signature attractions. Candler Park, for example, formed the Friends of Candler Park Golf Course in 2011 when they thought it was at risk for closure.

The councilwoman noted it will take a lot of money and resources to mount a successful campaign to keep the Cyclorama in the neighborhood, but she pledged to do what she could to advocate for Grant Park.

Supporters of keeping the Cyclorama in Grant Park, which had a major, $11 million renovation in 1996, have already garnered more than 700 signatures via an existing online petition and other efforts to support the idea.

Paul Simo, chairman of GPNA's Historic Committee, said those efforts are just a starting point and that the committee is looking at further developing its strategy toward keeping the Cyclorama in the neighborhood.

The committee has scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Atlanta Preservation Center, 327 St. Paul Ave. SE.

Daryl-Atlanta January 17, 2013 at 11:49 AM
The synergy, viability and future success of the Cyclorama is to relocate it to a new, iconic type building on the campus of the Atlanta History Center. Nothing against Grant Park and despite the zoo enjoying consistently improving attendance, the two attractions just don't fit together.
Chris Murphy January 17, 2013 at 11:49 AM
I hope to meet others that are interested in saving an incredibly valuable 'document' that depicts the most famous incident in SE ATL's history. The painting, and building, are a mess. Note: the last renovation wasn't in 1996 (I don't think), it was in '79, and cost about $15 million (according to Sunday's AJC). I inspected the painting last year. All talk about moving it, etc. is a pipe dream, as no one anywhere presently has funds to do anything about it. The immediate problem is that the painting (nor the building) was not treated well in the last renovation: the building itself wasn't big enough to begin with, the painting was never hung correctly, and it is now basically a bad plaster cast with the canvas on top. The paints themselves have been top-coated to the point they are also failing of their own weight and thickness. Saving the Cyclorama will take a huge effort. To some it might seem to be an expensive artifact that doesn't merit the expensive help it needs: restoring the painting, and putting into a building that could appropriately display it could easily cost well over $20 million. But the history it depicts is very important, its siting hard by the area where the fighting took place- indeed, next to one of the forts designed to halt the coming Yankee advance- and its ability to document Atlanta's past are unsurpassed. That it is one of the few true unique sites in ATL that could be a draw for visitors- and locals- is icing on the cake.
ChadK January 17, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Please move the cyclorama to the Atlanta History Center. The two really area a great fit and it makes more sense to join them rather than pepper a little history over here and a little history over there. As for the existing cyclorama building... My vote is to convert it to a new reptile house or some type of nocturnal exhibit for the Zoo. But most definitely keep the beautiful building.
Mark Davis January 17, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Move the painting. Zoo Atlanta needs the space.
Dbc January 20, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Gettysburg is inconveniently located as well...It's a shame that the Cyclorama hasn't been lovingly kept or properly promoted.
Dbc January 20, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Hopefully the well funded Zoo Atlanta supporters won't bully those supporting the Cyclorama.
Chris Murphy January 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM
"Gettysburg is inconveniently located as well" Huh? Google the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting restoration: that is exactly what the Atlanta piece needs. They used modern materials in a modern building to replicate the original technology for these types paintings.
Rusty January 21, 2013 at 02:21 PM
I love the Cyclorama. It is the first place I recommend to out of town visitors. I think that it is a hidden gem in the city.


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