Contractors to begin repair work on Fort Preble after storms and erosion impact safety

Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) is announcing plans to address damage and instability at the Fort Preble site after recent damaging storms and years of erosion.

“Our South Portland campus is a gift,” SMCC Interim President Tiffanie Bentley said. “As a community, SMCC takes our stewardship of this treasured landmark very seriously. We will do everything within our means to keep it from further degradation so that it remains a source of inspiration and education for students and visitors for years to come.”

Following a survey of the area, SMCC worked with Tec Associates to develop plans to stabilize the fort, and Great Falls Construction has been selected to do the work. The scope of work includes fencing in the areas most at risk, adding erosion control measures, including sub-drainage, removing unstable granite blocks, cataloging the locations from which the blocks are removed and storing the granite blocks safely on the site so that they can be reassembled at a future time when funding allows. The stabilization project is expected to be completed by late November 2023.

During this project, contractors will erect a barrier around the site to ensure their personnel’s safety, the SMCC community and visitors. The administration kindly asks for everyone’s cooperation during this time to ensure everyone who wants to enjoy the beautiful landscape at SMCC and Fort Preble can do so with safety at the top of the list.

Fort Preble, one of Maine’s most historic installations, was built in the early 1800s to defend Portland Harbor during the War of 1812. The fort was named after Portland native Commodore Edward Preble, a naval hero who served during the Barbary Wars. Over the years, the U.S. used Fort Preble for a variety of military purposes, including as a training facility for soldiers during World War II. The fort was deactivated in 1950 and in 1952, the State of Maine obtained it and converted it into a facility for the Maine Vocational Technical Institute, which ultimately became SMCC.

The Fort is also a breakwater for Portland harbor. A breakwater is a structure built along a shoreline to protect boats and ships from the force of waves and currents. It is typically made of large rocks or concrete blocks and is designed to absorb the impact of the waves and redirect their energy away from the harbor or marina. Additional breakwater construction began in 1837 after a severe storm destroyed wharves and houses along the Portland/South Portland shoreline.

Today, the Fort remains a popular Maine tourist attraction.

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