National Park Service Receives Jacksonville Spanish American War Fort
The North Florida Land Trust Friday handed over ownership of a Spanish-American War Fort in Jacksonville to the National Park Service.
The transfer comes about two years after the nonprofit purchased the property for more than $360,000 from a developer who intended to demolish the site and build a house on it.
Chris Hughes, Superintendent of Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, said the fort fits in with the overall vision of the 47,000 acre national park.
Even though the land was previously privately-owned, it is inside the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve park space.
“This was identified as a critical piece of what we needed to acquire to accomplish that mission.” he said. “So in a way this is another piece in the puzzle in collecting what’ll cohesively be America’s Heritage and our culture.”
The North Florida Land Trust raised more $400,000 to preserve Spanish-American War artillery battery fort, with more $162,500 coming from the City of Jacksonville. The Delores Barr Weaver Fund contributed $100,000.
President Jim McCarthy said the 19th century gun storage facility plays a significant role in the city’s history.
“We have a long history with the military in town,” he said. “And in those days there would have been 26,000 troops stationed here, getting ready to free the Cubans from Spanish control. At a time when the population of Jacksonville was 12,000.”
The fort was built on the St. Johns Bluff in 1898 to protect those troops.
McCarthy said he is delighted to be able to preserve such an important historical artifact.
“It is an important part of Jacksonville and who our history is and who our military history is. And kids now - because it is part of the National Park Service - will be able to come see it and will be part of it,” he said.
The National Park Service said the focus now is assessing the site’s stability, and potentially adding reinforcements, before opening it to the public.