MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

September 9, 2013

Fort retrenching for renovation: No Christmas tour this year, among other cancellations

For at least the next year, the Fort Gibson Historical Site won’t be quite the same, an official said. There will be no Christmas Candlelight Tour and no fall or spring encampments.

Director David Fowler said all but the stockade will remain open while a long-term restoration project is under way. The project may take a year or longer.

“It will be done in phases and each phase will take some time, but I can’t really estimate how long,” Fowler said.

The fall and spring bake days will go on as usual and the museum, bake house and barracks on the hill will remain open. The fort will not charge admission during construction.

“Our board of directors has approved us to go from collecting admission to collecting donations,” Fowler said. “We’ll post signs for the public and continue to update on our Facebook page.”

A new exhibit is in the works in the stone barracks on the hill, he said. It’s a Civil War mess hall that visitors will be able to explore.

The Fort Gibson Historical Site was built as a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s. The walls and roofs of the stockade, which was built to a smaller scale to match the original stockade, have begun to crumble.

The work is being funded by grants awarded more than three years ago, including $645,000 from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and $195,000 from a Saving America’s Treasures grant. The rest of the $1.1 million project is being funded by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The scope of the project includes grading the interior of the stockade to improve drainage and reduce deterioration, reroofing some parts and repairing as many logs as possible.

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