If you’ve ever wandered the grounds of the Historic Fort Wayne, and wondered if there just might be away to protect and preserve it, this comes as good news. A couple years ago we reported that renovation efforts could happen, and this is at least a step in the right direction. The National Park Foundation is teaming up with the Historic Fort Wayne coalition and the City of Detroit to help revitalize this landmark. The effort is supported by a $265,000 planning grant from the Kresge Foundation.
The 83-acre site, with buildings dating back to the 1840s, is in pretty dire shape. The site, located along West Jefferson Avenue, hosts tours, civil war reenactments, vintage baseball games, weddings, and other events. But the site needs work and a plan.
The project aims to improve recreational and cultural opportunities for Southwest Detroit residents and visitors. The grant will fund a consultant to work with city officials to develop a comprehensive strategic plan, including a timeline for implementation, by December 31, 2017.
[Photos by Nick Hagen]
NPS Urban Fellow David Goldstein will establish an advisory group of public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders to guide the planning process. The consultant will also help create a leasing program for the City of Detroit, which will allow for the renovation and use of the more than 30 military buildings in the fort complex. An RFP should be released in 2018 to seek proposals from prospective tenants, including community and cultural organizations, to renovate and lease buildings on the fort grounds.
"For nearly 175 years, Historic Fort Wayne has stood as a cultural and historical landmark, today attracting some 150,000 visitors a year, from neighborhood soccer leagues to Civil War re-enactments," said George Jacobsen, senior program officer in Kresge’s Detroit Program. "As we think about its place in the fabric of Detroit now and in the future, Historic Fort Wayne holds great promise as an active and connected point for the Southwest Detroit and broader communities to recreate, as a space to celebrate contributions of multiple cultures, and as a potential location to support the development of small and creative-sector businesses."
Fort Wayne was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The City of Detroit has owned the site since 1974, and it’s operated by the Parks and Recreation Department with assistance from the non-profit Historic Fort Wayne Coalition. The National Park Service provides guidance regarding use and restoration of the historic property.