Fort Pulaski National Monument recently implemented a fee demonstration project that begins to address the enormous preservation challenges that face a park with a 25 million brick fort and associated historic structures. Partnering with an existing park maintenance staff of five and utilizing the STEP authority, the park hired six talented undergraduate and graduate students majoring in historic preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to form this first ever park preservation team.
The main focus of this seasonâs work is to begin to reduce the amount of deferred maintenance within the walls of the fort. The bulk of the work will be tuck-pointing deteriorated mortar joints throughout the fort as well as the Cockspur Island Lighthouse. To begin to properly address this work, the team received an intensive and hands on two-week historic lime mortar training course in early June. Edwin Colon, facility manager from San Juan National Historic Site, and two members of the San Juan preservation crew, along with Mike Hosti, facility manager of Fort Pulaski NM, hosted the two-week course. The new Fort Pulaski preservation team analyzed mortar samples from the fort to develop a specific mix of lime mortar suited to the existing historic mortar, and devised a plan of preservation for the summer of 2007. Using hands-on experience and scientific methods, members of the San Juan preservation crew, Jose Bastian and Ramon De Jesus, demonstrated techniques for lime mortar application and imparted invaluable knowledge and experience to the team.
The students have been exposed to a typical small park experience where division boundaries are blurred to best accomplish the mission. An exciting component of this experience is their cross training to fire the parkâs historic black powder cannons. The team will be involved in living history programs throughout the year.
Funded through the fee demo program, the Fort Pulaski preservation team will be working at Fort Pulaski throughout the end of the fiscal year and plans call for the program to continue or even expand as fee revenues increase. Early work by the preservation team has visibly improved the brick walls of Fort Pulaski.
Superintendent Charles E. Fenwick had this to say about the team: âWe are very excited about this partnership between SCAD and Fort Pulaski. These historic preservation students represent the future of the National Park Service. As we approach our 100th birthday in 2016, these are just the type of employees we need to join us in our work: smart, willing to help us educate the public and dedicated to our mission of historic preservation.â