WINSLOW — The town will kick off a long-awaited improvement project at Fort Halifax Park with a three-day re-enactment this weekend.

The town is launching a $193,000 project at the park that will add parking, walking trails, interpretive plaques and an outline of the original fort, created with granite blocks and wooden posts.

The outline is intended to give visitors an idea of the buildings and walls that made up the original 140-foot-long fort.

“We tried to balance the need for access with the historical importance of the site,” Town Councilor Ray Caron said on Wednesday afternoon at a groundbreaking ceremony at the site.

The fort was built from 1754 to 1755 at the confluence of the Kennebec and Sebasticook Rivers at the start of the French and Indian War, in which the British fought the French. It fell into disrepair after the end of the conflict in 1763, and all that is left of the structure is a wooden blockhouse that has the distinction of being the oldest of its kind in the United States.

A master plan for the project was adopted by the Town Council in 2011, but it didn’t get off the ground until last year, when the town secured a $96,000 grant from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.


The money will be used to build a paved parking lot behind the J&S Oil building on Main Street. The current parking area overlaps with the planned fort outline, Caron said. “Moving the parking lot is critical so we can expose the site of the fort.”

The town intends to start work on the parking lot after the Fourth of July celebration at Fort Halifax, but future work at the site will depend on fundraising from the town.

According to Town Manager Michael Heavener, the goal is to raise $95,000 to pay for improvements. So far, only $1,500 has been collected, but Heavener said that the events this weekend are intended to kick-start the effort.

“This will be the first fully fledged fundraising activity,” he said.

Starting on Friday, re-enactors from at least three groups — James Howard’s Company, Samuel Goodwin’s Company and the Pequawet Alliance — will set up camp at the park. The groups will arrange the camp as a demonstration and act as though they are living in the 18th century.

On Saturday morning, the groups will stage a re-enactment of a skirmish that occurred when British troops from nearby Fort Western in Augusta were attacked while resupplying Fort Halifax.


Following the battle, the re-enactors will be at the camp for the rest of the day to show visitors around and talk about the history of the area. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Castlebay, a Celtic music duo from Bristol, will perform live music at the park.

On Sunday, the re-enactors will travel to Fort Western in Augusta to complete the weekend.

Proceeds from food sales at the event will support park construction, and volunteers will be soliciting donations from visitors, Heavener said.

The project is the latest thrust of a decadeslong effort to preserve the area.

The blockhouse was privately owned until 1966, when the Daughters of the American Revolution turned ownership over to the state of Maine. The blockhouse was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968.

Starting in 1974, efforts began to create a park at the site, which at various times was a car junkyard, a lumber yard and oil storage site. The blockhouse was destroyed in the 1987 flood, but a substantial portion of the timber was recovered and the building was rebuilt in 1988.


Discussions about improving the park eventually led to the creation in 2010 of a planning committee to develop a master plan for improvements.

“All we’re trying to do is advance the historical importance of this site,” Caron said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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