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Fort Phoenix

Battlefields & Cemeteries

Fort Phoenix
Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Located at the entrance to New Bedford Harbor, the Fort Phoenix fortification dated to the Civil War although use of the site to guard the harbor was recorded for the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. The fortifications including stone walls and a stone magazine have been maintained by the Town and volunteer groups since the 19th century. Throughout the 20th century, the site has been used and maintained as a park and beach by the Town of Fairhaven.

The project goals were to design and prepare construction documents for a handicapped accessible walkway connecting the existing parking lot to the fort and to prepare maintenance guidelines so the Town could more efficiently care for the historic structures and vegetation. The initial steps included researching the history of the site and conducting field reconnaissance to assess existing conditions. The Millicent Library of Fairhaven provided an excellent town archive. Knowledge about the site history was also gained from Civil War diaries of soldiers who served at the fort, which were archived in the New Bedford Free Library. Historic plans for Fort Phoenix were located in the National Archives. These materials were used to create an illustrated history narrative and to inform the design. Several options were proposed and presented to the Fairhaven Historic Commission in an open public meeting.

Rock outcrops and sloping grades presented challenges in locating a five percent gradient walk. The exposed nature of the site on the coastline required durable materials selection. The intent of the walkway was to provide handicapped accessible access while interfering as little as possible with the historic spatial quality, while minimizing disturbance to the soil because of the historic nature and archaeological value of the site. The placement and construction details were chosen to reduce the visual impact of the walk. Limited fill was specified to minimize the walk grades, limit subsurface disturbance and improve drainage. The maintenance guide addressed vegetation management to suppress invasive species while encouraging native vegetation.

Client:
Town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Projects:
Historical Landscape Research, Accessible Walkway & Drainage Project with Site Management Guidelines, 1999

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners