Pennsylvania Fights U.S. on Building Revolutionary War Museum

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Pennsylvania handed over Valley Forge National Historical Park, where George Washington's troops spent the winter of 1777-78, to the National Park Service 30 years ago. Governor Edward G. Rendell now says he may want it back.

Plans to build a $100 million American Revolution museum at Valley Forge, 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia, are ``in crisis,'' Rendell said in a letter last month to Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton. The U.S. government should consider returning the park or give the state 100 acres to complete the project itself, Rendell wrote.

``The museum makes sense,'' said Gordon Wood, a history professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and author of ``The Radicalism of the American Revolution.'' ``We don't have one, and the American Revolution is the most important event in our history. We don't really celebrate it properly.''

The American Revolution Center would house about 300,000 documents and artifacts that are scattered around the Philadelphia area, including Washington's tent. Both private donations and government money would finance the project.

The park service said it would cost $9 million a year to run the center at the proposed size of 90,000 square feet, exceeding Valley Forge's annual budget and leaving taxpayers on the hook.

``What they were proposing was something huge,'' said John Wright, a spokesman for the Interior Department, which oversees the park service. ``We need to be in tune with and sensitive to a lot of things in managing these parks efficiently and effectively -- and we answer to the taxpayers.''

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