Friday, Jun 1, 2012
In April, the park hosted a PAST (Preservation and Skills Training) Program workshop. During the two-week workshop, participants created a casemate door, complete with framing and shutters (sans the doors), and worked on a cistern with failing mortar joints.
Participants included Necia Alexander from Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park; Marcus Pannell, Larry Carter, and Curtis Middleton from Great Smoky Mountains National Park; John Roman from Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site; Glen Foster from Shiloh National Military Park; Gary Zbel from Gateway National Recreation Area; Eric Turner from Lincoln Home National Historic Site; Larry Seaboyer from the Historic Preservation Training Center (Mentor); and Katherine Purcell and Steven Denkmann from Fort Pulaski National Monument.
Special thanks for assistance and instruction goes out to Jerry Turner at Fort Pulaski. The team did an excellent job that will be noted for years to come.
Cisterns external to the fort supplied water to the laborers who lived on-site during the construction of Fort Pulaski; the cisterns are an example of a 19th century utility structure. Most cisterns onsite were built between 1820 and 1829. The cistern that was repaired is a large brick and mortar cistern. Accessible cisterns in the park have been filled with sand for safety reasons.
Casemates are chambers in which cannons may be placed to fire through embrasures in the front. After the Civil War, most of the casemates were in ill repair, noted in the excerpt below from an Army Corps inspection in 1892:
“All of the doors of the gun casemates are rotten; some are in place, and others have fallen down… The casemates in the southern half of the gorge are designed for quarters. They are serviceable but in a filthy condition. The casemates in the northern half of the same front are used for storage. They are not in good order; doors and window shutters are decayed and broken.” (FOPU Cultural Landscape Report, 2010)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 6166 transferred all federally managed historic sites, monuments, and battlefields to the National park Service in 1933. From 1933 until the country’s entry into World War II, many of the park’s developmental goals were met through New Deal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), and the Public Works Administration (PWA). These goals included restoration of the fort, rebuilding of the ditch and dike system, vegetation clearance and road and trail construction The building of a casemate door completes a task that was slated for construction but never completed.
The PAST program is a two-year course designed to provide competency-based skills training while preserving historic structures in parks. The program is intended for employees WG-03 through WG-07 and occasionally WG-09s, when appropriate. Mentoring is a program priority. A mentor is assigned to each trainee to serve as his or her coach and craft skills instructor. The program includes preservation training workshops, introduction to preservation philosophy and safety awareness, and a program orientation. The first PAST Program class began in 1993 and currently the program is in its 19th year. Almost 100 individuals that have completed the program to date.