The Friends of Fort Knox board of directors recently awarded a restoration project bid to Orrington-based Leighton Construction Company.

The restoration project, according to a press release from the group, is focused on a closed powder magazine located adjacent to the northernmost spiral staircase within the fort. The powder magazine has been off limits to the public for decades, due to rotted wood floors and walls.

The restoration project will involve replacing the rotted wood flooring and wall planks. Every effort will be made to retain and preserve as much of the original powder magazine wood and fixtures as is practicable. In addition, interpretive materials such as replica powder barrels and electric illumination in the magazine are included in the plans.

This powder magazine represents one of the main storage areas where black powder was stored for use in the Rodman and 24-pound blank howitzer cannon batteries. Powder magazines were constructed of wood and made use of copper fixtures to guard against any unintended spark that could have caused a catastrophic explosion.

The powder magazine project represents a major milestone in the Friends of Fort Knox ongoing restoration and preservation efforts at the State Historic site. The project, once completed, will open up the last area of the fort that had historically provided public access.

Past efforts of the Friends group to open areas of the fort that were closed to the public due to safety concerns include the officers’ quarters, Long Alley demibastion, enlisted men’s quarters cistern rooms and an area on Battery “B” adjacent to the retaining wall.

The Friends wish to thank the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust and the Messler Family Foundation for providing financial support for this restoration project.

The Friends work in partnership with the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, which owns Fort Knox for the people of Maine.