Since, Fort Pulaski National Monument has continued a fee demonstration project that addresses the enormous preservation challenges that face a park with a 160 year old brick fort and associated historic structures. Partnering with an existing park maintenance staff of five and utilizing the STEP authority, a National Park Service program that allows for the hiring of student employees, the park hires undergraduate and graduate students majoring in historic preservation to join the park's preservation team.
The main focus of the preservation team's work focuses on reducing the amount of deferred maintenance within the walls of the fort, tuck-pointing deteriorated mortar joints, as well as maintaining the historic Cockspur Island Lighthouse.
Tuck-pointing and repairing old mortar joints remains one of the team's major focuses inside Fort Pulaski. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) repaired crumbling mortar joints inside the fort using the latest technology, Portland cement, without knowing its damaging effects. However, Portland cement does not allow lime mortar to absorb and release moisture. Thus, the lime mortar is reduced to powder. The weakening mortar leads to cracking and flaking of historic bricks which threatens the overall integrity of the fort.
With more than 25 million bricks, today’s challenge involves removing the Portland cement and replacing it with more traditional lime mortar and natural cements.
When visiting the park take a look at the fort's southwest bastion to get a close-up view of some of the more current preservation work.