From Memory to Monument

A yellowing line drawing of a blueprint plan of Fort Stanwix with areas labeled with their technical terms.
Blueprint plan of Fort Stanwix. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 31500)


For the past 40 years, Fort Stanwix has stood as a reconstruction nestled in the heart of Rome, New York. The road to reconstructing the 18th century past was led by members of the Rome community and forever changed the City of Rome.

These images and film clips visually represent the process of reconstructing Fort Stanwix. This exhibit is also on display at two venues that each provide a different perspective of these events. If you would like to experience this exhibit in person, be sure to visit the park's visitor center and Rome Historical Society.
 
An airforce colonel stands in a reconstructed bastion and addresses a crowd, some of whom are dressed in 18th century period clothing.
The 1927 commemorative event featured Admiral Richard E. Byrd. Courtesy of Rome Historical Society (www.romehistoricalsociety.org)
 
Welcome Friends! Welcome Strangers! On this Greatest of Great Days
Fort Stanwix and Oriskany Come Forth from the Distant Past, Reincarnate!
May the Memory of this Event be Cherished by You,
as Will Your Presence Always be to Our People, a Charming Recollection
~ Headline of Rome Daily Sentinel, August 6, 1927.
 
Two people sit and excavate with a trowel, uncovering a brick structure that was later determined to be the bakehouse.
Archeological excavations led by the Fort Stanwix Museum first uncovered remains of Fort Stanwix in 1965. Courtesy of Rome Historical Society (www.romehistoricalsociety.org)







Interest in the site continued to grow in the community
and the Fort Stanwix Museum, operated by the
Rome Historical Society (RHS), set out to
locate the archeological remains of Fort Stanwix.
 
J. Duncan Campbell stands in a collared shirt and slacks smoking a cigar and pointing at an archeological profile.
J. Duncan Campbell points to an archeological profile. (Courtesy of Rome Historical Society www.romehistoricalsociety.org)




Former Airforce Colonel, J. Duncan Campbell, “boldly argued that more than 60 percent of the original fort features were still recoverable, leaving open the door for further archaeological work.”
~ Reconstructing the Past and Partnering for the Future: Fort Stanwix National Monument, 2008.
 
An aged newspaper headline with a drawing of the planned development of Fort Stanwix.
Newspaper headline from 1969 showing the proposed urban renewal plans that include reconstructing Fort Stanwix. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 31500)

A Community



“I think that when National Park Service
finally made the commitment that as
part of the urban renewal project,
they would rebuild Fort Stanwix,
that is the real impetus...and gave
the project a national prominence.”
~ William Flinchbaugh, Executive Director
City of Rome Urban Renewal, 1976.
 
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Duration:
2 minutes, 40 seconds

Short video clip from the film "Made in America: Rome New York" that highlights the planning and urban renewal aspects of reconstructing Fort Stanwix. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 22977)

 
A crane removes a large pillar from the front of the American Legion as a few people stand in the foreground watching. A picture below shows a demolished building next to a standing building with a large dump truck nearby.
The City of Rome donated 16 acres of land to the National Park Service to reconstruct Fort Stanwix. Once the buildings were removed from the site, archeological excavations could begin. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collections, FOST 22153)
“The National Park Service began archeological
investigations in July, 1970, under Dick Ping Hsu…"
~ Casemates and Cannonballs: Archeological
Investigations at Fort Stanwix National Monument, 1975.


Dick Hsu's Field Journal Entry:
July 15, 1970

We began work at 8:10 AM. It was overcast and cool.
There was no slumpage during the night, but there was some quite regularly during the day. It began raining steadily at 8:45 AM. The demolition of the gym and swimming pool began at 10:45 AM. The entire building was down by 4:00 PM. I continued explorations in the Carpenters Temple in the afternoon. At 4:00 PM we erected a fence across Willett Street. Afternoon was cool and partly cloudy. We began extending Excavation Unit #1.
Had Benedict and Getzels removing dark ground features of an old fireplace as training in the use of the trowel.
 
Wide view of the archeological excavations with tools as small as buckets and as large as a backhoe, buildings that were eventually demolished are in the background.
Archeological excavations took place from 1970 to 1974. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 22153)




"Because of the lack of time and a limit to the area
available for excavation (the site was still inhabited)
work during the first season concentrated on locating
the fort, and identifying key features to which
18th-century plans could be related.”
~ Casemates and Cannonballs: Archeological
Investigations at Fort Stanwix National Monument, 1975.
 

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Duration:
1 minute, 23 seconds

Various clips of the archeological excavations that took place in the 1970s to uncover remains of Fort Stanwix. Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 22244. (No sound)

 
Several images of blueprint plans detailing various components of Fort Stanwix, including the angles of the faises, the measurements of staples, and the design and dimensions of the gate.
A collage of blueprints detailing various aspects of how the fort was to be reconstructed. Click on image to see larger version. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 31500)

A Fort




“Before a reconstructed fort could stand
on the spot of the old Fort Stanwix,
architectural drawings had to translate
the archeological findings and historical
research into a three-dimensional
structure of defendable accuracy.”
~ Fort Stanwix National Monument: Reconstructing
the Past and Partnering for the Future, 2008.
 
A large steel frame anchored in concrete sits on the parade ground of Fort Stanwix with a crane in the background.
Construction workers piece together the steel frame of the east barracks. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 22153)
 
A large concrete wall towers over workers who are attaching a wood facade with the help of a crane.
Contractors affix a wood facade to the towering concrete walls of the reconstructed Fort Stanwix. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collections, FOST 22153)
“This basically is only a veneered fort.

The true thing that's holding it together
is concrete, about 8,000 yards of concrete
and 250,000 pounds of reinforcing steel.

Because this is the idea: with this concrete
in there, they figure it's going to last 200,
another 200 years.

We gave 200 years, it'll last 200 years,
so they say.”
~ Joseph Smith, Jr., Contractor
Made in America: Rome, NY, 1976.
 

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No dialogue, sounds of hammer hitting wood

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16 seconds

Film clip from "Made in America: Rome New York" featuring construction activities. Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 22977. (No dialogue, sounds of hammer hitting wood)

 
Volunteers dressed in 18th century period clothing are shown in two pictures, the top features women with a spinning wheel and the bottom shows men marching. Modern buildings and cars can be seen in the background.
Volunteers with the Fort Stanwix Garrison. (Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 22153)

A Future




“May this Fort stand as a reminder of the sacrifices made by our Revolutionary soldiers who served here and as a tribute to the 20th Century Americans who banded together to restore and preserve this vital part of our national heritage.”
~ Thomas Kelppe, Secretary of the Interior,
Speech given on May 22, 1976.

On May 20, 1976, the reconstructed
fort opened to the public under much
pomp and circumstance.

Approximately 90 volunteers had been
preparing for the public since 1973 with
the formation of the Fort Stanwix Garrison.
 

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Fife and drum music with intermittent, inaudible commands yelled by a man

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Duration:
57 seconds

Clip from "Made in America: Rome New York" that shows the opening ceremony of Fort Stanwix National Monument. Fort Stanwix National Monument Collection, FOST 22977. (Fife and drum music with intermittent, inaudible commands yelled by a man)

 

Even though this project is near to completion, near reality, it's still embryonic, as it will affect the life of this community...the good years are all in the future.

~ William Flinchbaugh, Executive Director Rome Urban Renewal
Made in America: Rome, NY

Annual Visitation to
Fort Stanwix Since Opening
1976 ~ 211,700
1977 ~ 102,000
1978 ~ 87,043
1979 ~ 68,288
1980 ~ 64,975
1981 ~ 60,696
1982 ~ 66,595
1983 ~ 63,154
1984 ~ 56,352
1985 ~ 67,100
1986 ~ 57,857
1987 ~ 45,338
1988 ~ 52,659
1989 ~ 51,271
1990 ~ 53,007
1991 ~ 57,172
1992 ~ 59,621
1993 ~ 54,785
1994 ~ 50,193
1995 ~ 56,139
1996 ~ 48,429
1997 ~ 82,552
1998 ~ 46,007
1999 ~ 51,228
2000 ~ 38,667
2001 ~ 53,065
2002 ~ 77,863
2003 ~ 56,646
2004 ~ 68,427
2005 ~ 38,237
2006 ~ 60,589
2007 ~ 59,643
2008 ~ 71,263
2009 ~ 93,170
2010 ~ 103,748
2011 ~ 102,874
2012 ~ 195,057
2013 ~ 129,089
2014 ~ 60,819
2015 ~ 86,678
2016 ~ 94,006
Total ~ 2,997,864


As the National Park Service moves through the next 100 years, Fort Stanwix National Monument remains dedicated to preserving the archeology of the fort, the objects from the people who lived here, and the reconstruction as a way to educate and inspire the next generation Americans with the local histories of resilience, freedom, and community here in Rome.

Last updated: October 19, 2017

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Rome, NY 13440

Phone:

315-338-7730

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