Fundraising continues for Fort Gorges preservation

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PORTLAND — The Friends of Fort Gorges are still raising money to fund a preservation study that would revitalize the Civil War-era fort and potentially open it up the public.

Nearly a year ago the friends group announced it had received a $20,000 grant from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission that would help pay for a master plan for the unique historic site in Portland Harbor.

Recently the Friends of Fort Gorges announced another donation, this time a $5,000 grant, from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Paul Drinan, executive director of the friends group, called the donation “another big day” for his organization.

And in a press release the trust said, “Organizations like Friends of Fort Gorges help to ensure that communities and towns all across America retain their unique sense of place. We are honored to provide a grant to Friends of Fort Gorges, which will (be used) to help preserve an important piece of our shared national heritage.”

Fort Gorges was built during the Civil War, but it was never put into use; 100 years after it was built the federal government gave the fort to the city. The only way to access the structure is by private boat, but the preservation plan could change all that.

Drinan has said the site is a local treasure, and a push should be made to save it. Along with the renewed effort by the Friends of Fort Gorges, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will also be conducting some structural reinforcement work there this coming spring.

Because the site has not been maintained in any regular way, restoration costs could run into the millions, Drinan previously said, which is why it’s important to get public input into the future of the fort.

Drinan said city officials have now agreed to hold a public forum in mid-to-late February, which would give Friends of Fort Gorges a chance to outline their hopes for the structure and weigh the public’s support of the group’s efforts.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

An effort is underway to preserve and restore historic Fort Gorges in Casco Bay.

Paul Drinan, left, hands Ethan Hipple, parks director for the city of Portland, a check for $4,300 that will be used to help create a master plan for the preservation of Fort Gorges. Part of the donation to the city came from a recent grant to the Friends of Fort Gorges from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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