When we returned to Fort Frederica National Monument this year, we notices that there are some changes going on around here. This is the only park that we have worked at more than once, so it is hard to say whether changes are normal in the National Park Service. But, after years of talking about changes without anything every really changing, things have been moving this year.
The biggest changes were the renovations in the Visitors Center, which I described on Wednesday. These were big changes that everyone can see. And they are big improvements. Other changes were very noticeable when I walked around the park.
There is a new picnic pavilion by the river. The pavilion was built at the site of the former Fort Frederica Yacht Club. The pavilion doesn’t have any electrical power, lights, or even picnic tables at this point. But the shelter is very nice and could be a lovely place for a picnic.
Another one of the changes is the Archaeology Education Building. This is just around the corner from the RV sites and I walk by the construction every day. After watching the park take four years to build a storage building made of concrete blocks, I am amazed that the Archaeology Education Building has gone up so fast. It is being paid for by the Friends of Fort Frederica and they are all about getting things done.
The Archaeology Education Building will be used for school groups and summer camps. Ellen Provenzano, our current Education Specialist, is very excited about the possibilities of the building. The program won’t be dependent on the weather and can take place year-round with this building. The interior is almost finished. The building was supposed to be open in March, but someone forgot to run power or plumbing to the building site. The opening may be delayed until those things are done.
The open dig site on the grounds of Fort Frederica is another change. Since last year, they have doubled the size of the site and recovered all kinds of artifacts. The dig site is the Sinclair House and the archaeologists are continuing their excavation of the site. I’m impressed with the size of the dirt piles at the site. Ranger Michael started the dig in 2020 during the pandemic. Digging in the dirt always helps him deal with his frustrations.
Streetlights along the entrance are another of the changes at Fort Frederica over the last year. They are solar powered and black-sky-friendly. The streetlights look very nice, but seem superfluous since the park closes at 5 p.m. Once or twice a month there is an evening gathering of some kind at the park, so the streetlights are helpful at that time.
These changes are all good for Fort Frederica and make it look like something is going on here. There have been more changes in the last year than there were in the previous six years we have been working at the park.