Friends of Fort Knox
The following is an annual report for the Friends of Fort Knox (FFK) reflecting the organization’s activities in 2008. This report will highlight the initiation of the Century and a Half masonry project and continued stabilization of four income sectors.
The Friends of Fort Knox Board of Directors and staff continued to work hard to contain expenses, maximize resources, diversify income streams and complete projects at the Fort. The success of the organization would not have been possible without the outstanding cooperation of our partners, the Bureau of Parks and Lands.
Financial income stabilization was aided by the second operating year of the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, strong gift shop sales, various special events and a significant increase in grants/contributions. At the end of 2008, all FFK combined available unrestricted funds were $138,584, in addition, a total of $74,724* was restricted for the Century and a Half project.
The FFK partnership with the Bureau of Parks and Lands continued to involve contracted management services. FFK staff worked the fee collection booth, provided interpretive tours for school children and visitors, plus provided staff for the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.
The total operational season visitor attendance at Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory was 84,403, during 2008. Attendance totals were down approximately 8% from the previous year.
*$15,000 in accounts receivable
Information in the report will be contained under general headings listed below.
The FFK Board of Directors approved the start of the Century and a Half masonry project and the installation of parking lot lights. In addition, two local businesses, Green Thumb Landscaping, of Brewer and Lane Construction, of Bucksport, donated services that improved the Fort.
Two local companies pitch in to help at the Fort. Green Thumb, of Brewer, sprays vegetation causing damage to masonry joints on the Fort facade and Lane Construction, Bucksport, repairs collapsed wall in Battery 'B'.
The Century and a Half masonry project initially focused on the casemate areas of the Fort where advanced deterioration may have posed a safety threat to visitors. The FFK contracted mason, Joe Bowley, reported that bricks were falling into his hands as he prepared to repoint areas of the casemates. A yardstick was inserted between some of the casemate masonry joints demonstrating many inches of missing masonry.
The first task of the masons was to repoint the southern demibastion of “long alley” that had been closed in 2006, due to bricks falling from the vaulted ceiling. The masons then moved onto the casemate areas and repointed the most seriously deteriorated vaulted ceilings. Following the stabilization of the casemates, masons rebuilt walls in the “enlisted men’s” quarters where visitors had been removing bricks.
Finally, an extensive masonry restoration effort was made in the cistern area of the enlisted men’s quarters. In the cistern rooms the masons reconstructed walls, ceilings and constructed a viewing platform, so that visitors could view the only above ground cistern at Fort Knox. The cistern rooms had been closed for decades due to falling bricks.
Joe Bowley, FFK mason, surveys the work ahead of him in the “cistern rooms”.
Above ground cistern rooms reopened to the public for the first time in two decades. Tim Hall, Bureau of Parks and Lands Northern Region Director (left) and FFK Chair, Chris Popper (right), cut the ribbon reopening the rooms in October 2008.
Volunteers are a crucial component to Friends of Fort Knox activities. A breakout in the number of volunteer hours for 2008 is listed below:
Estimated Volunteer Hours -2008
FFK Board and Committees: 576 hours
FFK Gift Shop Volunteers: 630 hours
FFK Tours: 60 hours
FFK sponsored special event volunteers includes Park Day, Easter Egg Hunt, Scottish Tattoo, 20th Maine, SCA, Fright at Fort: 3,335 hours
Total estimated Fort volunteer hours documented by the Friends: 4,601 and 317 volunteers.
Interpretive Tours- Another bright spot in this year’s annual report are the interpretive tours provided by Friends’ staff and volunteer docents during 2008.
# of school group tours – 43 – 1,471 students
# of general public tours – 263 – 1,869
Total # of tours – 306
Total # of individuals receiving a tour – 3,340
Summer camps often visit the Fort and enjoy an educational tour by FFK staff.
Gate Staffing- Friends of Fort Knox personnel greeted visitors throughout the operating season, providing guidance and collecting admission fees. Gate personnel provided services seven days a week, 8 hours a day for the operating season (10 hours a day July/August).
Observatory Staffing- Beginning May 1, 2008, FFK provided two staff people, seven days a week, at 8.50 hours a day (10.5 hours July/August), to operate the observatory. FFK staff was trained by BPL personnel in CPR, first aid, emergency evacuation procedures and in the use of a defibrillator. Staff performed exceptionally during several emergency evacuations of the observatory due to elevator malfunctions.
The observatory looms in the summer sky awaiting daily visitors.
Special Events – Friends sponsored special events continued to please visitors with a variety of entertainment and educational demonstrations throughout the season. Notable special events included a Park Day cleanup, Maine Foster Care Family Day, Paranormal/Psychic Faire, Scottish Tattoo, Pirate Day, Medieval Tournament, 20th Maine Company ‘B’ Civil War reenactments, cannon firings, Civil War medical demonstration, Will Cotton’s reenactors, Fright at the Fort and a granite cutting demonstration.
Paranormal Faire attendees listen to a ghost hunter and visitors enjoy a swashbuckling sword duel at Pirate Day.
Listed below are the four main income streams for FFK that span the past four years. Significant income growth was seen in the contribution/grant percentage in 2008. Significant reduction was seen in the FFK gate contract percentage, due to a reduction of amount retained in the contract with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and BPL policy change resulting in increased exempt fee use.
Income 2008 2007 2006 2005
Gift Shop- $99,350 $111,995 $40,154 $46,255
Special Events- $59,174 $55,732 $17,789 $10,051
Gate Contract %- $80,998 $124,765 $36,056 $35,892
Contributions- $81,517 $17,233 $40,009 $14,410
Totals- $321,039 $309,725 $134,008 $106,608
Promotion and Public Education
The Friends of Fort Knox distributed over 8,000 newsletters to visitors to Fort Knox. The newsletters contained information on the history of the Fort, Friends’ restoration priorities and event schedules. Ongoing radio and television ads encouraging visitors to visit Fort Knox and the new observatory aired throughout the season.
The Friends distributed flyers on behalf of the Downtown Bucksport Business Association to all visitors. The flyers were designed to encourage visitors to stop and shop at local businesses.
The Friends received a large amount of electronic and print media coverage throughout the year. Media coverage was driven by the opening of the observatory, restoration efforts and special events.
Future Restoration/Preservation Projects
The Friends of Fort Knox Board working in partnership with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands have developed priorities for the Century and a Half masonry project for 2009. The masonry repointing at the Fort is expected to be continued for the next five years and will continue as rapidly as funds allow.
Deteriorating masonry in Fort casemate
In addition to the previously mentioned priority project, FFK will undertake a second archaeology field school during the summer of 2009. The archaeology project will focus on a known foundation of an out building presumably used during Fort construction, but the purpose of which was unknown.
It is now believed that the foundation was first associated with a residence in the late 18th Century before being transformed into a blacksmith shop during Fort construction.