MADRID — If all goes according to plan, groundbreaking on a new addition to the St. Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum in Madrid could be held in 2020.
The museum’s Board of Trustees has approved the addition of a historical Civil War stockade fort, which will be located on the museum’s grounds in Madrid.
“I met with the Board of Trustees and I presented to the full membership at their annual meeting. I got unanimous support from the Board of Trustees, and the membership was just thrilled to have this project coming to the museum,” said Scott Wilson, the volunteer project coordinator. He’ll also be responsible for its construction and, once it’s complete, will oversee the living history interpreters.
The museum is donating the land for the project, and the fort will become an asset of the museum, adding to what Mr. Wilson said is already a look back in time on the museum grounds. In this case, it’s from 1861 to 1865.
“They really try to create a historical timeline. I’m going to bring them a new piece. We’re going to build a fort there. Civil War forts out in the West were mainly fortifications on coasts or fortifications around Washington. But it’s hard to do that, so we’re going to build a stockade fence kind of fort,” he said.
But, he said, it will be more than a fort. Outside the gate will be a marble monument that will recognize Civil War Medal of Honor recipients from St. Lawrence County — James Allen, Dayton P. Clarke, Newton Martin Curtis, John Gilmore, Francis Hall, Charles Houghton, Fallet Johnson, John Moffit, John T. Rutherford, William Walling and Thomas M. Wells. Along with their names, the monument will include background information, such as the unit in which they served.
“There were 11 Medal of Honor winners. It will be a single site where you can come and they can be recognized. There’s no single site where we have that in the county,” Mr. Wilson said. “The memorial of Medal of Honor recipients is important. As we get farther and farther away, less is known. You have to go to very specific cemeteries to find their grave markers. This way, the museum is going to have a tribute on their grounds.”
Separately, there will also be an honor roll of troops, by regiment, who were raised in St. Lawrence County. That will be part of a barracks building, which will also include Civil War pictures and memorabilia, and serve as a barracks for living interpreters to stay.
“The fort will be a testament to say, ‘Look, there were men who left this county, maybe for the first time, on a train, went to Albany, mustered, went to Washington and were deployed out,” Mr. Wilson said.
Along with the barracks, the fort will include a headquarters building and a parade ground with a flag pole as its centerpiece. The project will be completed in phases. Initially the stockade fence and gate will be built, then the barracks and finally the headquarters.
Mr. Wilson said the new exhibit will not only enable regular museum visitors to get a glimpse of camp life during the war, but will provide an opportunity for visits by school-aged children in grades four and seven who are studying the Civil War as part of the state curriculum.
“I want it to be a central location for school day programs on the American Civil War. They come to the fort, see living history, and talk about life and other things about the Civil War,” he said.
“The SLP&E Museum is very excited at the opportunity to add this Civil War-era replica fort to our facility,” said Joe Finnegan, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees. “The presence of this display at our museum will enrich the visitors’ appreciation of the colorful history of the north country and its role in the ‘War Between the States.’ We look forward to moving ahead with this project and the associated activities that will take place at the fort.”
Fundraising for the project is currently underway. Anyone who would like to contribute can send their donation to the SLPE Museum, attention: Fort Project, P.O. Box 400, Madrid, N.Y. 13660.
The museum is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit and all donations are tax deductible.