Many know Fort Adams and Fort Adams State Park for the Newport Folk Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Volvo Ocean Race and as always a great place to spend the day taking a tour, having a picnic or watching the sun set over Narragansett Bay.
Unfortunately, there’s been an important part of Fort Adams, known as “Redoubt” or “Castle Fort”, that has been unable to be enjoyed in by the public due to deteriorating conditions that would need extensive funding to provide rehabilitative work.
As we reported on yesterday, International Conference and Service Project Being Held This Weekend in Newport for Bridge and Turnpike Authorities.
The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) is the worldwide association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve tolling.
During every Annual Meeting for the IBTTA, there is an Annual Foundation Service Project completed.
Eric Offenberg, Director of Engineering for the Rhode Island Turnpike Bridge Authority, worked over the last months with the IBTTA and Fort Adams Trust to include the restoration of the Redoubt at Fort Adams as part of the associations Annual Foundation Service Project.
More than 100 IBTTA members from around the world spent the weekend contributing to the restoration of the Redoubt at Fort Adams by constructing bridges across the original moat of the Fort, building staircases, landscaping and carrying out an assortment of smaller projects.
While IBTTA was the largest group to be working on this project, volunteers from the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County and the James L. Maher Center joined them to bring the total of volunteers to around 200.
“This project aims not only to make the Fort accessible for the enjoyment of the public, but also to serve a greater good. With the grand opening of the Fort, stable and ongoing employment opportunities necessary for maintaining the Fort and conducting tours will be created. With these opportunities, the Fort will proudly be able to provide jobs to those with developmental disabilities. The IBTTA Service Project will afford these individuals an opportunity to use their training to work independently in a project that will culminate with the opening of the Southern Redoubt for visitors to tour for the very first time,” organizers of the event shared on the brochure/agenda for the event.
A look at some of the projects completed over the weekend;
- Two sets of stairs were constructed to provide access into the outer moat and inner ditch of the Fort. The stairs are 8 to 12 feet in height.
- Throughout the outer works of the Fort, there were a number of chambers in damaged condition. Crews cleaned all rooms within these chambers of debris and miscellaneous abandoned electrical conduits, and removed existing graffiti.
- One chamber room was partially restored, with work entailing painting of the walls, installing temporary windows, rebuilding doorways and entrances, and mounting prints to walls. This work was done to demonstrate how a chamber room may have looked during operation.
- A temporary cover in the form of rubber sheeting, approximately 250 square feet in area, was placed over existing vegetated area on roof of Fort structure adjacent to the spiral stairway. This work was done in order to stop the infiltration of rainwater into the Fort that has been deteriorating the walls.
- Tour access paths were created through the use of guide fencing within the Fort. Guide fencing will be installed along center of vegetated outer works roof to create pathways to provide guidance to future tourists.
- Throughout the Fort, there are a number of areas within the tunnels and chambers where floor brick has significantly deteriorated. Work included the removal of damaged floor brick, and replacement with blue stone dust. This work was done to ensure a safe and level walking surface for visitors.
- Across the entire Fort, landscape had wildly overgrown. While the northern portion of the Fort had been cleared of overgrown weeds, shrubbery, and trees, crews worked on the revegetation of this northern portion: spreading 30 yards of mulch, creating new planting beds, and seeding areas.
- Along the north side of the Fort, approximately 450 feet of new fencing and 2 new gates along the perimeter and one new gate inside the fort were installed. A brand new heavy duty aluminum fence and gates with wrought iron finish will be installed to restrict access and provide protection.
For the last 12 years a group of volunteers met two weekends a month to try to complete this project, the volunteer work by the IBTTA, James L. Maher Center, and Boys & Girls Club of Newport County is expected to have made a significant impact on the future of Fort Adams as a piece of history and a place to visit.
“We had over 200 volunteers for the day of the event which is over 1600 man hours and we had another 1500 hours in the weeks leading up to it plus we had over 30 thousand donated in cash contributions and another 50 thousand in inking services. Total project worth is over $300,000. This project spearheaded by the ITTBA will be the catalyst for great things to happen here at the Fort”, said Eric Offenberg, Director of Engineering for the Rhode Island Turnpike Bridge Authority.
The Fort Adams Redoubt is expected to open to the public before the end of May, visit www.fortadams.org for updates.
Fort Adams is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has applied to be a World Heritage Site.