FORT LIGONIER PLANS TO “FORTIFY OUR FUTURE”
December 1, 2015 – A multi-phase project, which includes renovation, restoration, and the addition of a history education center was announced at Fort Ligonier. “These plans are a direct result of our strategic and interpretive planning processes with key stakeholders. Over the past few years, we have taken a thorough, comprehensive look at our facilities, programs and staffing, as well as analyzing our services from the visitor’s perspective,” according to Edward R. Weidlein III, President of Fort Ligonier’s Board of Trustees.
Renovation of the 50+ year old museum building will include necessary updates to the electrical, HVAC and communication systems; creation of “The Washington Gallery,” to house the Fort’s spectacular collection of George Washington objects in one area; installation of audio and visual enhancements including an introductory video at the museum’s entrance and audio tour technologies to assist in guiding visitors through the galleries; a redesigned History Gallery and Museum Store; and development of a basement-level research library and collections storage area. “By exhibiting Washington’s “Remarks,” along with his saddle pistols and the current video in one gallery, it provides us the opportunity to fully interpret his early military career and time at Fort Ligonier, as well as the transition from the French & Indian War to the American Revolution,” according to Director of History and Collections, Erica Nuckles. “We will also create a reverse timeline from present day back to the 18th century so every visitor actually steps into history as they depart the museum and enter the Fort area.”
Brad Mooney, of Heritage Restorations, will oversee the restoration and reconstruction work in the Fort including replacement of the East Bastion, and repairs to buildings and artillery carts. Over the past twenty-five years, Mr. Mooney has led all of the major historic reconstruction projects at Fort Ligonier.
To accommodate increased educational programming and the future expansion of programs, including workshops, symposiums and lectures, the addition of an education center is key to attaining the ultimate goal of developing Fort Ligonier as a year-round, world-class learning center for the French and Indian War and Seven Years’ War. The new center will be adjacent to the existing museum building and will provide those inside an inspiring view of the Fort itself.
Fort Ligonier’s “Fortifying our Future,” fund-raising campaign is in the “quiet phase,” still soliciting support from Foundations. With the guidance of Teeter Associates of Greensburg, Fort Ligonier’s staff and trustees have developed a plan to raise $13 million, with $8 million dedicated to the immediate capital projects and the additional $5 million as a long-term goal to go towards the organization’s endowment. The Honorable John D. Ong, of Hudson, Ohio, and Stahlstown, Pennsylvania, is serving as Honorary Chairman of the Campaign, with Joseph M. Byers (Past President of the Board of Trustees) of Ligonier as Chairman.
Ambassador Ong noted, “We are extremely pleased with the enthusiastic support for this campaign, with the Richard King Mellon Foundation providing the lead gift of $3.5 million. This represents the largest single gift Fort Ligonier has ever received. We are most fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with the R. K. Mellon Foundation, dating back to General Mellon’s interest in the archaeological excavations which took place at Fort Ligonier in the 1940’s and 1950’s.”
Funds raised to date for the campaign total $5.8 million. Fort Ligonier’s Board of Trustees have pledged $500,000 to the project, and donations and commitments have been received from other foundations including the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, Eden Hall Foundation, and Colcom Foundation. “It truly is an exciting time at Fort Ligonier. We currently welcome over 25,000 visitors annually. The results of this project will enable us to expand programming, improve each visitor’s experience, encourage scholarly research, and engage a wider audience in this global history,” according to Annie Urban, Executive Director.
Ground-breaking is scheduled to commence in the spring of 2016.