Some more info on the old Dobbin House diorama at Gettysburg


A vintage photograph of the Gettysburg Battlefield Diorama in the old Dobbin House on Steinwehr Avenue in Gettysburg.

Background post: The long gone Dobbin House diorama at Gettysburg

A Charge! reader sent me some interesting information on the Gettysburg Diorama that used to be located in the historic Dobbin House in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The diorama was constructed by a York, PA, man, Curvin Heiss and his son. Heiss hard carved the molds and then cast the figures. He and his son Curvin Jr. then hand painted the 54mm Civil War figures.


At 50 cents admission for an adult, the Dobbin House diorama was reasonably priced for the era. Constructed in the 1950s, Heiss sold the building, museum, and diorama in the late 1960s. The diorama was dismantled and moved in 1977.


Here is an article about the diorama from a Baltimore newspaper during the attraction’s heyday.


And, here is a compilation of material on the old Dobbin House, which includes a grainy old photo of Heiss and his son standing over what appears to be Big and Little Round Tops.


And finally, here is the memorial tribute to Curvin Heiss, Sr., whose vision, patience, and creative skill made this diorama a wonderful memory for thousands of visitors to Gettysburg during the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations – the “golden age” of the budding American tourism industry.


Three of Curvin Heiss’s creations… may somewhere his little men still be providing enjoyment for someone!


Categories: Civil War dioramas, Civil War toys, Gettysburg | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Some more info on the old Dobbin House diorama at Gettysburg

  1. Noel

    Thank you for putting all this together in such an appealing form, Scott, and for your ongoing attention to dioramas of the past!

  2. david childers

    thanks for posting the diorama pictures. I’d like to see some other issues of Great Battles In History, if there be such. very cool stuff. David Childers

  3. G. Craig Caba

    Scott: Great talk to Harrisburg CWRT; thank you. Just wanted to note there is a LA Tiger’s Memorial Collection in the J. H. Wert holdings (that I have). Sometime this spring or summer you are welcome to visit and I shall pull from storage the box. There are some fascinating items. The musket has ‘stripes’ and there is a silver engraved imported revolver and
    a bottle of wine (so toast victory -?) with New Orleans label — lot’s of small items too.

  4. Don Steiner

    I got my start in Gettysburg museums at the Battlefield Diorama, first in the House w;here General Reynolds died and them they moved down the street to the Dobbin House, Worked with Mr. Heiss and his son on reworking and painting Britain and Bussler Figures for the layout. Then worked evening shift operating the control board and had the pleasure of meeting many times of meeting Mr. & Mrs Eisenhower when they would bring their grand children in to see the diorama.. Today I cringe when I think of how many Britain we cut up and altered making those displays .

  5. Roger B

    I have a copy of that book if anyone is interested.

  6. Sure. Send me an email to with the details.

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