Gettysburg was laid out by Gettys in 1799 with a center square and two hundred lots. The square is surrounded by a cluster of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century buildings that are better preserved here than in other towns in the region because of the association of the community with the battle. On the square's north side is a largely modern hotel that was colonialized by Philadelphia theater architect William H. Lee in 1925, beginning the infusion of Mount Vernon's veranda as the marker of history across the nation. The hotel has since had as many face-lifts as a movie star and is now only significant as a place holder in the square. The Wills house on the southeast corner, where Lincoln stayed the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address, has been restored by the National Park Service. At Christmas, the German love of that holiday transforms the square and the buildings around it and makes it as worth visiting in December as on the July anniversary of the Gettysburg battle.
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