Work site for the Fort Adams Southeast Demi-Bastion

By Sandy Kristiansson, Board Member for Fort Adams Trust

The Fort Adams Trust has been awarded a grant of $150,000 from The Champlin Foundation to assist the Trust in the restoration of Fort Adams’ Southeast Demi-Bastion.  Following Fort Adams decommissioning in the early 1950’s, the Southeast Demi- bastion has been ravaged by weather and vandalism, resulting in several vault collapses and roof failures, and today remains one of the Fort’s most critical areas in need of restoration.

This grant from The Champlin Foundation is their second, totaling $300,000 for the project.  In combination with an additional grant from the McBean Foundation in 2019, and the Rhode Island Capital funds from RI Department of Environmental Management, each in the amount of $300,000, the latest Champlin grant will allow the Trust to undertake the most significant restoration of Historic Fort Adams in nearly a decade.  In all, the Fort Adams Trust has been able to raise enough funds to match the State funding three-to-one with private donations. 

The Champlin Foundation funds will be targeted at helping cover the cost of the restoration and stabilization of the Southeast Demi-Bastion’s roof.  This project will entail the removal of soil from the ramparts, originally designed to protect the fort from enemy artillery, and the terreplein, where the fort’s defenders would have historically been positioned to return fire with cannon and muskets.   Critical to this restoration will be the installation of a waterproof liner where the earth is to be removed to protect the historic arches below the terreplein and rampart from water.  Historic venting chimneys will be rebuilt, as well and the soil and grass sod reinstalled protecting the space below.  The work is slated to start at the end of 2020 with Gnazzo Construction being the lead contractor and design work provided by Newport Collaborative Architects. Completion of this restoration project is anticipated to be accomplished by June of 2021.

“The Southeast Demi-Bastion Project is a priority in the continuing restoration efforts by the Trust,” stated Chris Zeeman, Vice President of the Fort Adams Trust. “The Demi-Bastion Project is one of the many preservation needs of the fort and we are now fortunate to initiate the process with the assistance of the grants. Although the perception of the fort is one of indestructibility; the age and weather conditions that the structure is subject to require extensive refurbishment and preservation work that would not be feasible without the grants and the state,” Zeeman further imparted.

“The generosity of The Champlin Foundation and other philanthropic organizations are critical to Fort Adams’ long-term survival,” offered Joe Dias, Executive Director of the Fort Adams Trust. “The Trust continues to work with RI DEM in restoring the Fort and with the generous grant partnerships that will enable future generations to appreciate the rich heritage Fort Adams offers.  A special thank you to our locally elected leaders Representative Marvin L. Abney, Representative Lauren H. Carson, Senator Dawn M. Euer and Senator Louis P. DiPalma for supporting the Fort and this project at the legislative level, Dias added. 

The Southeast Demi-Bastion restoration is one of the many projects the Fort Adams Trust has planned in the near future. Most recently this fall, the Trust finished repointing the embrasures on the East Wall by the main entrance to the Fort and will now start on the Demi-Bastion effort.

About the Fort Adams Trust:

The Fort Adams Trust is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit responsible for preservation, programming, and promoting the National Historic Landmarks in Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island. Over 100,000 people tour the Fort and attend events in the Park annually. The Trust accepts donations to support its preservation and programming missions.