Fort Allen Park Rehabilitation Project
While additional funding is still needed, the Fort Allen Rehabilitation Plan is moving forward at full tilt thanks to the support of the City of Portland’s Capital Improvement Project for fiscal year 2013 as well as a Community Development Block Grant. The grants will bring in $77,000 and $980,000 respectively. The CDBG Grant is also being set aside for the restoration of the viewing area, making it accessible to people with disabilities.
The Project will go to bid in December and the short-term goal of completing the hardscape work and most of the tree work should be complete by July 2013, in time for the Fort Allen Park Summer Concert Series and the 4th of July Celebration!
Friends of the Eastern Promenade is seeking private donations and grants to complete the project. If you are interested in giving opportunities, please contact us at email@example.com or follow this link to donate on our website.
Plans for the historic restoration of Fort Allen Park continue to unfold. Friends of the Eastern Promenade is sponsoring this major endeavor, which seeks to reclaim the park’s historic grandeur from a century ago.
The public is invited to view the design for the Fort Allen Park Restoration Project at four more meetings in February, March and April, which are listed at the end of this article. All are encouraged to attend, and public comment will be taken.
Friends of the Eastern Promenade hired landscape architects Martha Lyon and Regina Leonard to research the park’s rich history, create schematic plans and develop a budget and construction documents, working closely with the Historic Preservation Board and staff from the City of Portland. The final design must be approved by the Historic Preservation Board as well as the Planning Department.
“The intent of the project is to rehabilitate the park and restore its character by utilizing historic landscape elements, while balancing current needs such as an ADA accessible overlook,” says Diane Davison, President of Friends of the Eastern Promenade.
Once the final plans are approved, Friends of the Eastern Promenade will launch a major fundraising campaign, with hopes to complete the park’s restoration in time for Fort Allen’s bicentennial celebration in 2014.
Fort Allen Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a Historic Landscape by the City of Portland. As a designated historic landmark, improvements to the property must follow guidelines set by the Secretary of the Interior.
The park contains the original earthen berm from Fort Allen, which was inaugurated in 1814 to protect the entrance to Portland’s harbor. The park’s iconic bandstand, carriage drive and overlook were built in the 1890s. In 1905, the renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape firm created a master plan for the Eastern Promenade, preserving the original design features of Fort Allen Park.
Fort Allen Park has slowly declined since its glory years. Landscape and infrastructure changes have marred the original design. The carriage drive was straightened and the central pathway and pedestrian walkways flanking the drive were removed. Several historic structures have fallen into disrepair, particularly the Civil War cannons and carriages and the wrought iron fencing at the park’s steep edge and overlook area. Memorials added over the years, including the USS Portland Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial, need to be better integrated into the landscape. Decorative evergreens are currently seen as overgrown, having lived out their useful life.
Designs for Fort Allen Park have been guided by careful research, which established the park’s period of historic significance from 1890 to 1930. Plans reflect the Olmsteds’ vision for pedestrian circulation within the Eastern Promenade, as well as the need for modern amenities, such as accessibility, lighting and safety codes. Removal of vegetation, including the evergreens, will be balanced with the addition of new trees and shrubs.
“This current design scheme offers a more graceful, beautifully landscaped and historically appropriate experience for all who enjoy the Eastern Promenade and Fort Allen Park,” Davison says.
Features of the current design:
- Replace the original central walkway leading to the bandstand
- Replace the pedestrian walkways on either side of the carriage drive and connect them to the lower path
- Realign the carriage drive to its original layout and reinstating thecobblestone gutters
- Rebuild the overlook terrace to improve accessibility for people with disabilities
- Replace fencing at the top of the slope and the overlook terrace
- Relocate utility lines
- Address drainage issues, details and materials and ensure pathways meet current code regulations
- Remove remaining evergreen trees
- Introduce low groups of plantings around the bandstand, on the down slope of the overlook and around the USS Portland
- Recommended tree species for along the Eastern Promenade roadway at the top of Fort Allen Park is Ginkgo Biloba Magyar, a slow growing shade tree reaching a height of 40-60 feet and 30 feet wide at maturity with medium foliage texture. Trees would be planted 50 feet on center as recommended within the Eastern Promenade Master Plan.
- Recommended tree species for planting along the outer edge of the interior pathways is Hawthorn Winter King, a slow growing tree with lacy, open canopies reaching 25-30 feet in height at maturity.
- Remove volunteer and invasive growth along the cliff and slope to improve views
Historic Structures & Monuments
- Repair the Civil War cannons and carriages
- Repair and repaint the bandstand
- Better integrate the USS Portland and the 9/11 Memorial into the park
Lighting & Site Furnishings
- Install low-level bollard lights to illuminate pedestrian walkways rather than the roadway
- Add more benches in the upper area of the park, at the overlook and possibly near the flagpole
- Replace and add new interpretive signage and kiosks
Please save these meeting dates for opportunities for public comment:
Historic Preservation Board
Fort Allen Park Restoration Workshop
5 pm Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012
Room 209 City Hall
Fort Allen Park Restoration Presentation
5 pm Thursday, March 8, 2012
55 Portland St., Portland
Fort Allen Park Public Presentation
Sponsored by Friends of the Eastern Promenade
7 pm Thursday, March 8, 2012
East End Community School, Portland
Historic Preservation Board
Final Fort Allen Park Restoration Public Hearing
7 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Room 209, Portland City Hall
Written comments on the Fort Allen Park Project are welcome and encouraged up until April 1, 2012. You can express your views in several ways:
- Attend one of the public meetings listed above
- Email Friends of the Eastern Promenade at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send a message through the Friends of the Eastern Promenade contact form
- Mail a letter to Friends of the Eastern Promenade, P.O. Box 16025, Portland, ME 04101
- Contact the Historic Preservation Board:
Deborah Andrews, Historic Preservation Program Manager
City of Portland
389 Congress Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Historic Preservation Board website