Friends of Fort Knox - Annual Report 2009

 Overview

The following is an annual report for the Friends of Fort Knox (FFK) reflecting the organization’s activities in 2009. This report will highlight the continuation of the Century and a Half masonry project and a downturn in three of four income sectors, which can be attributed to the national economy and poor weather during the operating season. The decline in the amount of grant revenue and private donations has a direct correlation to the downturn in the overall economy.

Overall FFK revenue was down 13.8% from 2008.

The Friends of Fort Knox Board of Directors and staff continued to work hard to contain expenses, work with community groups, 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.

At the end of 2009, all FFK combined available unrestricted funds were $183,703, in addition, a total of $49,954* was restricted for the Century and a Half project. The total funds on hand represent an increase of 7% over 2008.

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, traffic/parking control and provided staff for the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.

The total operational season visitor attendance at Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory was 78,169, during 2009. Attendance totals were down approximately 7% from the previous year. Attendance has declined a total of 15.4% since the record setting year of 2007, which marked the opening of the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.

Decline in attendance figures impact overall gate receipts and gift shop sales potentials.

*$15,000 in accounts receivable

Information in the report will be contained under general headings listed below.

Restoration/Preservation

The Century and a Half masonry project continued throughout the year and focused on repointing the ten casemate areas of the main Fort. Listed below are the significant milestones achieved thus far in the masonry project.

Priority One – There were several areas located in the Fort casemate archways where bricks were held in place by gravity. The mason reported that the bricks fell into his hand with little effort. In addition, the southern demibastion, located in “long alley”, had been closed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands in 2006, due to bricks falling from the ceiling. The above masonry work was completed in 2008.

Priority Two – Several areas located in the Fort’s “enlisted men’s quarters” and “two step alley” had missing bricks and were being further destabilized by visitors removing additional bricks. The mason repointed and replaced missing bricks from these areas. The stabilization of these areas was completed in 2008.

Priority Three – The Cistern rooms located in the “enlisted men’s quarters” had been closed to the public since the 1980s due to collapsing walls and ceiling. A major fracture was evident in the vaulted ceiling of the room leading into the above ground cistern room. The mason rebuilt the wall and repaired the ceiling in the ante room to the cistern. In addition, the mason repaired two windows, stabilized bricks on the cistern and constructed a viewing platform so that visitors could view this unique architectural feature of the Fort.

Priority Four - The Fort has ten casemate areas, one of which houses a 10-inch Rodman cannon original to the Fort. This past summer, brick repointing of the casemates was undertaken and is continuing as of this writing.

The masonry repointing project will be undertaken using the guidelines set forth by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Preservation Briefs, “Repointing Mortar Joints in Historic Masonry Buildings.” The masonry mix being used for repointing is type “N” (1 part cement, 1 part hydrated lime or lime putty, 5-6 parts sand).

                   mortar loss            

Extensive mortar loss in Fort casemate archways

fuzzy bowley

Repair in casemate areas to prevent bricks from falling

archfissure

fixed fissure

Repair of archway fissure in cistern ante room of enlisted men’s quarters.

Volunteers

Volunteers are a crucial component to Friends of Fort Knox activities. A breakout in the number of volunteer hours for 2009 is listed below:

Estimated Volunteer Hours - 2009

FFK Board and Committees: 576 hours

FFK Gift Shop Volunteers: 630 hours

FFK sponsored special event volunteers includes Park Day, Easter Egg Hunt, Scottish Tattoo, 20th Maine, SCA, Fright at Fort: 3,410 hours

Total estimated Fort volunteer hours documented by the Friends: 4,616 and 315 volunteers.

Visitor Services

Interpretive Tours- Another bright spot in this year’s annual report are the interpretive tours provided by Friends’ staff and volunteer docents during 2009.

# of school group tours – 43 – 1,350 students

# of general public tours – 296 – 2,286

# of non school group tours – 38 - 909

Total # of tours – 377

Total # of individuals receiving a tour – 4,450

Due to cut backs in education funding, FFK is considering offering limited transportation scholarships to schools interested in making an educational field trip.

rogertour

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 (9 hours a day July/August).

Observatory Staffing- Beginning May 1, 2009, FFK provided two staff people, seven days a week, at 8.50 hours a day (9.5 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 and a bomb threat.

PNO

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, blue grass concert, Bangor Band performance, Fright at the Fort and a granite cutting demonstration.

The Friends worked closely with the Bucksport Downtown Business Association and Chamber of Commerce on two joint events. FFK provided a pirate ship to the Chamber of Commerce to provide an opportunity for families to board the vessel and meet the pirates. In addition, FFK worked closely with the two Bucksport groups to promote a new sister event to Fright at the Fort, called Ghostport.

mustrooscannonfiring

. The “Must Roos” pirate ship ply’s the waters off Fort Knox during Pirate Day activities and a Civil War cannon firing demonstration

Financial Income

 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 2009. Significant increase was seen in the FFK gate contract percentage, due to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and BPL policy change resulting in increased fees for non resident visitation. In addition, a 7.5% increase in Fort only visitation contributed to the amount FFK retained from gate fees.

Income                        2009                       2008                2007              2006              

Gift Shop-                   $98,007                 $99,350           $111,995         $40,154          

Special Events-          $48,890                 $59,174            $55,732           $17,789          

Gate Contract %-       $90.124                $80,998            $124,765         $36,056          

Contributions-           $20,006                 $81,517            $17,233           $40,009          

 Totals-                   $257,027              $321,039         $309,725       $134,008        

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 observatory aired throughout the season.

The Friends received a large amount of electronic and print media coverage throughout the year. Media coverage was driven by the reopening of the observatory, archaeology field school, 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.

In addition to the previously mentioned priority project, FFK will undertake a third archaeology field school during the summer of 2010. The archaeology project may continue to focus on a known foundation of an out building presumably used during Fort construction, but the purpose of which was unknown.

field school

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.

Other sites may be considered for the field school that includes the area soldiers encamped during the Spanish-American War, Ordinance Sergeant’s quarters or at a location of a buried steam engine.

 

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