Historic Fort Pickens building to open for visitors

Posted on November 20, 2019 by Staff reports

Work has begun in the Fort Pickens Historic District to restore the historic Mine Loading Building and eventually open the building to public use. The project underway is phase one of a three phase project to stabilize and restore the building as an interpretive exhibit space for visitors to learn about the history of the Fort Pickens Area and the Mine Planter Service. The Mine Loading Building is located directly north of the historic masonry fort at the new tour boat pier.

The current phase of the project will accomplish several tasks needed to stabilize the 100+ year old structure. Work will include repairing and replacing brick and mortar of the building’s walls, repairing the historic crane and associated equipment, replacing the current roof with a historically accurate and more sustainable roof, completing lead abatement, and demolishing non-historic features. This work is expected to be completed by Spring 2020.

The second phase of the project will include preparing the structure for visitor use by addressing the floor, adding accessible access, and dealing with drainage issues around the exterior of the building. The final phase of the project will include the installation of new and dynamic interpretive exhibits.

The Mine Loading Building was constructed in 1907 to complete final assembly of underwater mines used to protect the entrance to Pensacola Bay by the Mine Planter Service. The building was one of a cluster of buildings used by the service including the Mine Storeroom and the Cable Tank Storage. The Mine Storeroom was rehabilitated and adaptively reused as a concession operated snack bar. The foundation of the Cable Tank Storage has been reused to support the newly installed restroom facility in the area.

The restoration of the Mine Loading Building, as well as, the restoration of the Mine Storeroom and the new restroom structure were funded by park entrance fees. Revenue from entrance fees remain with the NPS and helps ensure a quality experience for all who visit. At Gulf Islands, 76.5 percent of entrance fees are retained by the park and are devoted to maintaining facilities that directly serve visitors. Learn more about how fee dollars are at work at the park by visiting: https://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/yourfeesatwork.htm