2011 Metal Preservation Project

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Date: July 12, 2011
Contact: Bill Martin, (843) 883-3123 x 11

Fort Sumter National Monument personnel and scientists from Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center are collaborating to preserve historic metals at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie. These metals include large scale cannons, architectural elements, and museum collection artifacts.

On Monday July 11, 2011, four cannons were removed from Cannon Row at Fort Moultrie and taken to a treatment shop in North Charleston, where numerous layers of paint will be carefully removed and replaced with state-of-the-art coatings. The goal is to remove existing corrosion and install a new coating system that will protect the historic metal fabric from further corrosion for many years to come.

Ten years of research on preserving the Civil War's H. L. Hunley submarine is being applied to preserve the historic metals of Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie. Based on the results of research at the Conservation Center into the causes of corrosion of these historic metals, a determination has been made about the best state-of-the-art coatings to apply to prevent future deterioration.

"Preservation of America's treasures is one of the primary missions of the National Park Service and we are pleased to be collaborating with Clemson University on this important project," stated Superintendent Tim Stone.

The project work also will preserve other cannons, and historic metal features such as massive iron doorways, steps, railings, and gun emplacements. At Fort Sumter, three artillery shells lodged in the brick masonry walls also will be treated.

Approximately 35 small-scale iron artifacts from the park's museum collection will be treated in the one-of-a-kind sub-critical chamber at the Warren Lasch Lab. Among the artifacts selected for preservation treatment are several rare examples of Civil War-era artillery projectiles.

Mike Drews, director of the Clemson Conservation Center, said the project will demonstrate the effectiveness of modern industrial coatings instead of using traditional coatings.

"The cannons will have a more durable coating that will require less maintenance and last for a far longer period," Drews said. "This work will contribute to setting new standards for how the National Park Service treats and protects outdoor iron."

For more information on this project contact Chief of Resource Management Rick Dorrance at (843) 883-3123 x 15 or e-mail rick_dorrance@nps.gov; or Clemson Conservation Center Director Mike Drews at (843) 744-2974 x 11 or e-mail dmichae@clemson.edu.

Fort Sumter National Monument is administered by the National Park Service. Ferry boats to the fort leave daily from the visitor center at 340 Concord Street in Charleston, and from Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant. Fort Moultrie, a unit of Fort Sumter National Monument, is located at 1214 Middle Street on Sullivan's Island. All sites are open daily except for New Year's, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.

For more information, call (843) 883-3123 or follow our social media feeds.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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