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Park Service now backs Valley Forge war museum

SHARE Park Service now backs Valley Forge war museum

GLENSIDE, Pa. (AP) — The National Park Service has dropped its opposition to a planned Revolutionary War museum at Valley Forge, a hard-won victory for backers of the $150 million project.

Gov. Ed Rendell and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said during a news conference Tuesday that the park service has informed Congress that it now supports the museum, clearing the primary roadblock to construction.

The 90,000-square-foot American Revolution Center at Valley Forge, planned since 1999, is intended to offer the first comprehensive look at the American war for independence.

With a design by architect Robert A.M. Stern, the building is to hold more than 460,000 artifacts, including the first "USA" button, Martha Washington's prayer book, George Washington's renovated sleeping tent, paintings, weaponry and other items.

The park service and the Revolution Center had battled for years over the museum's size.

"The park service is hesitant about building these new facilities because the (agency) is obviously stretched very thin," said Santorum, R-Pa., who with Rendell was about to take part in an Independence Day parade in the Philadelphia suburbs.

The museum is to be built at Valley Forge National Historical Park, where George Washington's troops waited out the winter in 1777.

The project must still win congressional authorization. But Santorum and Rendell said they don't expect that to be a problem because the museum is to be built with state and local tax money and private donations.