Winslow’s Fort Halifax blockhouse getting new roof

WINSLOW – The oldest log cabin in the country is receiving a required update.

On Thursday, construction began on a new roof for Fort Halifax, a city treasure and a National Historic Landmark. The project should be completed by the end of May.

The roof is replaced by split cedar shingles.

“There were areas on the upper level where you could look up and see light,” said Amanda McCaslin, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We were in danger of damaging the fort’s integrity.”

Planning for the project began more than a year ago when McCaslin met with representatives from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Friends of Fort Halifax.

A $ 12,500 grant from the State Historic Preservation Office, secured in 2019, funded the hiring of a historic architect to outline the project, but the state did not have money to cover the grant.

The Friends of Fort Halifax donated $ 5,500 to the project, and the City of Winslow donated the remaining $ 7,000 from their Fort Halifax account to help push it through.

Elery Keene, president and secretary of Friends of Fort Halifax, said it was important for the city to keep the log home in good condition. While the fort is owned by the state, Keene said, the city is doing a lot to maintain it.

Keene said he doesn’t think the city should pay to maintain the fort, but the community is doing what it takes to take care of it. Keene described the log cabin as “an important historical facility”.

“It’s a symbol of the beginning of the town of Winslow,” said Keene. “It’s a recognition of history. I happen to be one of those people interested in the old kind of story. It’s good to have an old building like the one built in the 18th century. “

A Boothbay-based Mid-Maine Restoration Inc. crew is working Friday to repair the roof of the Fort Halifax log cabin in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Watchman

Ray Caron, chairman of the city council and a member of Friends of Fort Halifax, said the log cabin work was an example of how projects should work. Caron said Fort Halifax Park was more than just a log cabin. It has history and has served as a central meeting place for more than two centuries.

“I have the feeling that you have to wait a long time to get projects if you wait for the state, the city or private organizations to do something,” said Caron. “Amanda, the friends of Fort Halifax and the state have come together, and this is how things must be done in the future.”

Together with Keene and Caron, Linda Lambert, Ernie Baker and Gerry Poissonnier worked on the project with Friends of Fort Halifax.

Last fall, the Friends of Fort Halifax completed a project to lay stones at the original corners of the fort, built around the Wabanaki in 1754 by English settlers at the start of the French and Indian War, which lasted until 1763 -Canoe routes to be guarded as far as Canada. Maine was then part of Massachusetts.

In 1987 the memorial was flooded and the log cabin destroyed, but the city maintained its support for the landmark and rallied to rebuild it over the next year. The Friends of Fort Halifax were formed the year after the area was flooded.

Winslow hosts an annual outdoor Fort Halifax Days celebration but did not do so in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation has invited second and fourth graders from Winslow Elementary School on field trips. The city administration hopes to continue such events.

Fort Halifax Days will be rescheduled from June to August this year as Winslow celebrates the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of the city on April 26, 1771.

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