Wax figures including a depiction of Abraham Lincoln rest in storage in Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Heritage Center is auctioning off 95 figures made of wax
Wax figures including a depiction of Abraham Lincoln rest in storage in Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Heritage Center is auctioning off 95 figures made of wax and paraffin on March 15. (Jeff Lautenberger — The Evening Sun)

The Gettysburg Heritage Center is letting go of Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Robert E. Lee to present another part of the town's history in the Civil War era.

The center's museum at 297 Steinwehr Ave. in Gettysburg will auction off more than 300 items — including about 95 figures made of wax and paraffin — at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 15, at its facility.

The auction will be conducted by PA Onsite Auction Co., said Stephanie Lightner, museum general manager.

Last August, Future Stake of Gettysburg, acquired the 52-year-old American Civil War Wax Museum, changing its name to the Gettysburg Heritage Center, which will continue to feature a museum, gift shop and theater, she said.

Auction details: The items being auctioned were used at the American Civil War Wax Museum for all its years of operation, Lightner said.

Among them are figures of Lincoln, Lee, a confederate Army commander and Union Army General Ambrose Burnside, as well as figures from the Underground Railroad scenes.

Other auction items are antique furniture, light fixtures, backdrops and scenery, old books, oil paintings and store displays.

"It's tough to determine how much these figures and items can go for at an auction," Lightner said. "There has not been a sale like this to refer them to, and this is the first time we've ever had an auction."

Museum staff will be at the sale to answer potential buyers' questions and for sentimental reasons, as items they have worked with for years will no longer be around, she said.

Memories: Lightner, a 19-year museum employee, said she expects that many people will purchase auction items just for the memories.

"We're finding that a lot of people aren't attached to the wax figures, but to the memories created here," she said. "Many came here as children with their parents and school groups, and they brought their children and grandchildren to experience our facility. By purchasing something from here, it's a piece of their history, their own personal past."

Funds raised through the sale will be used to pay for the Gettysburg Heritage Center's renovations, which include giving the gift shop a more general store look and upgrading the theater's technology system to a high-definition program, said Tammy Myers, the museum's president. Those areas are expected to open to the public in mid-April.

New focus: The Gettysburg Heritage Center will now focus on the lives of Gettysburg townspeople, before, during and after the three-day Civil War battle in their area, Lightner said.

"We want to focus on the lives of these ordinary people who did extraordinary things to respond to the (war)," she said. "We really want to emphasize the town and how robust it was before the battle and how those three days shaped and transformed Gettysburg to what it is today."

— Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.