The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced a $500,000 federal grant award to support the ongoing efforts of a significant historic preservation project at Old Fort Niagara State Historic Site.
The grant is from the National Park Service (NPS), which has awarded $7 million in the inaugural round of funding for their Semiquincentennial Grant Program commemorating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Created by Congress in 2020 and funded through the Historic Preservation Fund, the first round of grants supports 17 cultural resource preservation projects across 12 states, including masonry preservation at Fort Niagara.
Fort Niagara, located at the intersection of Lake Ontario and the Niagara River in Youngstown, is nationally and internationally significant for its architecture and its military history, but also as a site of generations of cross-cultural contact between Europeans and Native Americans. With its earliest structure dating to 1726-27, the fort was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
State Parks said, “Today, through a strong partnership between the Old Fort Niagara Association and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Old Fort Niagara preserves and interprets the historical record of the struggles of various nations to control the Great Lakes region from 1726-1815. Profoundly significant to the founding of America, the fort retains a high degree of integrity, but some of its oldest masonry structures are deteriorating and need restoration.”
Masonry preservation at Fort Niagara, which is slated to start in summer 2023, is being supported in part by a $500,000 Semiquincentennial Grant from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. The project scope for the $1.8 million masonry restoration project includes stabilization of the north wall of the French Castle; repointing of the historic masonry of the French Castle, North Redoubt and South Redoubt; and the restoration of the west section of the casemates.
State Parks said, “These structural interventions will correct known problem points of the historic buildings, and interrupt a vicious cycle of deterioration stemming from a freeze-thaw cycle that is causing mortar loss and cracking the fort’s stones.
“The Old Fort Niagara Association uses the historic fortifications as gateways to tell the diverse stories of the many different people that came together at Fort Niagara, sometimes in peace and partnership, and sometimes in conflict and crisis. This complex history is explored through OFNA’s exhibits and public programs, which align with Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s ‘Our Whole History’ initiative that seeks to tell the stories of all the people who were involved in the creation of our nation. Stabilizing and restoring the fort will ensure the preservation and interpretation of New York’s history for generations to come.”
State Parks oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses and boat launches, which are visited by more than 78 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518-474-0456. Also, connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Congress appropriated funding for the Semiquincentennial Grant Program in fiscal year 2021 through the Historic Preservation Fund. The HPF uses revenue from federal oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf, assisting with a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars, with the intent to mitigate the loss of a nonrenewable resource to benefit the preservation of other irreplaceable resources.
Established in 1977, the HPF is authorized at $150 million per year through 2023 and has provided more than $2 billion in historic preservation grants to states, Tribes, local governments and nonprofit organizations. Administered by the NPS, HPF funds may be appropriated by Congress to support a variety of historic preservation projects to help preserve the nation’s cultural resources.
For more information about NPS historic preservation programs and grants, visit nps.gov/stlpg/.