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Gettysburg house where Lincoln stayed opens Thursday

By Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gettysburg PA, February 9, 2009 — The latest attraction for tourists in this historic town is set to open Thursday and for the first five days tourists can check it out for free.

The David Wills house, a stately, three-story, red-brick structure on the corner of Lincoln Square will open on Thursday, which, not coincidentally, would have been the 200th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln.

Don't know who David Wills was? Don't worry. Only the most intense of Civil War buffs would know that.

He was a prominent lawyer in Gettysburg in the 1860s, and he invited President Lincoln to speak on Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery, the burial place of hundreds of soldiers who died in the famous Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863.

Mr. Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, which lasted only 2 1/2 minutes but has gone down in history as one of the most famous tributes ever given. The bedroom where Honest Abe slept and composed part of the address is on the second floor of the Wills house and will be open to visitors.

Since 2004, the National Parks Service has spent $7.2 million to buy and renovate the house where David and Catherine Wills lived. Like many private homes in Gettysburg, in July 1863 it was turned into a makeshift hospital for treating wounded Union soldiers. Mrs. Wills did much of the medical work herself, accordin to parks service officials.

Admittance to the Wills house will be free for five days starting Thursday at 2 p.m. and ending next Monday. Then on Feb. 18, it will reopen at a regular charge for adults of $6.50. Senior citizens will pay $5.50 each, while youths age 6 to 18 will pay $4. Children 5 and under are free.