This site development plan thus far has detailed the way the Fort Hawkins historical resources will best be utilized, but the Fort Hawkins Commission has always maintained a desire to see the site become a thriving community resource beyond its important role as a historical and educational resource.
The Fort Hawkins site will achieve this status by being proactive in its public outreach.This will be accomplished by providing a place for groups like our partners, the Ocmulgee Archaeological Society, to meet and work, encouraging other such groups to cultivate such partnerships.After school programs with the Burdell-Hunt Elementary, located only two blocks away, could be offered and the school being a Media Magnet School could partner with Fort Hawkins with such media programs as the History Channel’s “Save Our History.”
Fort Hawkins could become a center for adult literacy and English/Spanish speaking classes reflecting its original history and current commitment to the community.Various Senior and youth services could help expand the efforts of the nearby Rosa Jackson Community Center. The site’s living history program and area could create a unique rental opportunity for youth birthdays, company picnics, family reunions, school reunions, and other social and celebratory events.Most historic sites have learned to increase their revenue stream with an active rental opportunity program and Fort Hawkins will become such a unique rental resource.
Fort Hawkins benefited from the involvement of local boy scouts in the 1960’s and 70’s and that opportunity will be extended again.Fort Hawkins is the actual brand of the Central Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America on their proud shoulder patch and one of their popular camps is named after Benjamin Hawkins.Their current Scout Executive, Bob Boyd, was one of those scouts touring folks around the replica blockhouse in the 1970’s and he has already committed a professional and official bond with local scouting and the fort.This will provide an expanded base of site volunteers and improved public programs as well as a place for the scouts to earn merit badges and offer their community service. The Fort Hawkins site could even sponsor its own Scout Troops.
The Fort Hawkins site could and should be utilized by all local patriotic and veteran groups in their own public programming and in holding special community events at the site.This will allow the fort’s past patriotism to be applied in today’s world and provide a place for these patriotic organizations to promote their goals and needs.Likewise local and national military groups from high school R.O.T.C. units to major U.S. Army museums, along with re-enactor soldiers from the War of 1812 and active duty U.S. Army soldiers, will be invited to participate in Fort Hawkins site activities. Developing positive relations with patriotic and veterans groups along with reconnecting with the U.S. Army will further benefit Fort Hawkins in bigger and better ways with site programming and fund raising.These military roots could and should become a major site asset.
Fort Hawkins will further benefit by this proactive public outreach and partnership cultivation by visiting and bonding with the many historical sites that relate directly to the Fort Hawkins time period and heritage such as the original Federal Road Sites towards Washington, D.C. and towards New Orleans, which will include Fort Mitchell in Alabama.Other such Fort Hawkins era recreated forts to partner with would be Fort Smith, Arkansas and Fort Osage, Missouri, which became the westernmost U.S. Fort & Factory while Fort Hawkins was the easternmost. The Muscogee Creek Nation has been told that we will be visiting them as well as other “Trail of Tears” memorials.
Coastal Georgia offers a variety of historical forts with a variety of funding sources that need to be studied and visited include: Fort Jackson, Savannah (c. 1808), privately operated by the Coastal Heritage Society; Fort King George, Darien (c. 1736), State Historic Site; Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island (c. 1736), National Monument; and Fort Point Peter, St. Marys (c. 1790), Cumberland Island National Seashore.All of the above named seven forts are examples of the success Fort Hawkins expects and their experiences will be invaluable to our efforts.All of these other fort successes are part of the present inspiration felt by the Fort Hawkins Commission, as well as part of its quiet desperation in getting Fort Hawkins properly opened, promoted, and preserved.
Likewise, once Fort Hawkins has the proper facilities to support the programs that are planned for the site, a multitude of living history groups will want to partner with the historic site in bringing history alive.Company A, 7th Regiment of U.S. Infantry Living History Association and Forsyth’s Rifle Regiment are just two of many War of 1812 Re-enactors that need to be reminded of the war’s southern theater at Fort Hawkins.The Coalition of Historical Trekkers should become involved with their dedication in sharing through living history their civilian side of the fort era.The Association of Living Historical Farms & Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM) has an international reputation in promoting and developing all living history sites and will obviously want to partner with Fort Hawkins.Fort Hawkins will become partners with the local Macon Arts Roundtable and the statewide Georgia Association of Museums & Galleries (GMAG).There are many more such groups and organizations that Fort Hawkins will partner with to provide the grant support that the Fort Hawkins project deserves and can finally administer with a proper support facility.
The Fort Hawkins Commission has already partnered successfully with a number of individuals and groups in a variety of ways that have benefited Fort Hawkins presently, but with the proper support facilities as outlined in this site development plan, these benefits will improve and increase exponentially.Nevertheless, despite such facilities, the Commission can be proud of these successful partnerships as seen in the growth of the Friends of Fort Hawkins.The Friends support group as of this date totals over 180 memberships equating
to several hundred individuals and reflecting a broad base of community support on a local and regional effort including students and senior citizens, youth groups and patriotic groups, Lifetime members and generous in-kind sponsors.Among the groups are the statewide Colonial Dames of America and the statewide Daughters of the War 1812 along with several individual chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and several Middle Georgia historical groups.
The Friends of Fort Hawkins have partnered with the Keep Macon Bibb Beautiful Commission in their “Adopt-A-Spot” program and sponsor four cleanups and picnics a year around the Fort Hawkins city block.Signs on Fort Hill Street and Maynard Street proclaim this partnership and these efforts to improve our historic neighborhood.Fort Hawkins will help spread this wonderful public program to continue the improvements in our worthy but needy neighborhood. The Friends of Fort Hawkins have also had two receptions at Macon’s Sidney Lanier Cottage, as a partner with the Historic Macon Foundation, and have recently produced a handsome new Friends brochure that promotes this crucial support group and the fort history.The brochure is distributed at public programs, the Blockhouse Replica, Macon City Hall, Burdell-Hunt Elementary School, Ocmulgee National Monument, Sidney Lanier Cottage, and the new Downtown Macon Welcome Center operated by the Macon – Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau (MBCCVB).
Fort Hawkins has partnered with the MBCCVB with the development of this impressive $3 million Welcome Center’s exhibits.Fort Hawkins is boldly portrayed in both the promotional video and the wall length montage of Macon’s history.The MBCCVB has also made the development of Fort Hawkins as one of their three main goals for 2008 and recently placed the Fort Hawkins Commission Chairman on the Tourism Attraction Committee.The “Point of Destination Tourist Attraction For Macon: A Feasibility Assessment” prepared for the Macon Chamber of Commerce in 1988 by Davidson-Peterson Associates, Inc. touted the benefits of living history and authentic historical recreations with a suggested “arts and crafts festival park . . . designed to impress visitors with total ambience and environment.”The MBCCVB knows that this will be Fort Hawkins.
Other distinguished groups have been part of the fort’s developing partnerships throughout the state and locally.The Society of Georgia Archaeology held its spring state convention in 2007 at Fort Hawkins and featured a national speaker, Dr. Jim Johnson, who spoke on “Traces of Heritage Along the Ocmulgee and the Hudson Rivers.”His talk highlighted the potential for the Fort Hawkins project to this illustrious group of archaeologists.The Georgia Historical Society and the Fort Hawkins Commission co-sponsored the funding and erection in fall of 2007 of an official Fort Hawkins State Historic Marker, whose dedication was the largest ever witnessed by the GHS due to the participation of the entire 500+ Burdell-Hunt Elementary School student body.The U.S. Army also participated
in the event marking their first return to their former fort since the 1820’s (although some were now believed to be on the site in 1865).
The KMBBC, the entire Burdell-Hunt Elementary School, the Bibb Board of Education, the Georgia Forestry Commission, and the Fort Hawkins Commission joined forces for another impressive public program at Fort Hawkins with the annual Georgia Arbor Day Celebration in 2007.Partnering later with the BBOE, Fort Hawkins hopes to see every 4th or 5th grader in Bibb County visit the site each year.Partnering later with the GFC, Fort Hawkins may help relocate their official State Forestry Museum now remotely located at the very end of Emery Highway after it becomes the Riggins Mill Road and even more remotely known to exist.The Howard Bennett Forestry Museum needs immediate rescue and relocation near Fort Hawkins on Emery Highway, creating three substantial historical and educational attractions along this corridor and contribute more economic stimulus along this depressed roadway. The connection of Fort Hawkins’ time period to forestry and trees is obvious.
Fort Hawkins has been truly blessed to have real fiscal partners already established.When the Fort Hawkins Commission began its fund raising efforts in earnest in 2003 a providential decision was made to allow the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, rather than the City of Macon, to manage and protect the funds generated for the Fort Hawkins Commission.This provided the Fort Hawkins Commission with an immediate 501(c) 3 status and their professional management and wise counsel have benefited the fort’s fund raising efforts immensely and helped demonstrate the fiscal responsibility of the Fort Hawkins Commission.The Friends of Fort Hawkins, by their various memberships, have contributed to the financial well being of the Fort Hawkins project, but several major contributors have enhanced this well being many fold.
The Nathaniel Macon Chapter NSDAR has not only been the organization that has provided the foundation and backbone to remember Fort Hawkins over the years, but also they continue to contribute significantly to site programs and fund raising efforts.Likewise, the Macon Town Committee and Georgia Colonial Dames of America have contributed greatly in helping fund the site’s archaeology. Local businessman, David Walsh, made such impressive contributions to sponsor two Fort Hawkins Car Shows in downtown Macon, that despite being a free event to the public, it has become the most successful fundraiser for Fort Hawkins.Wal-Mart has contributed $4000 in Community Grants to Fort Hawkins to support our free public programming allowing us to improve and expand these programs. This has allowed the Fort Hawkins Commission to not only offer a very ambitious public program schedule (Appendix XI), but also these fund raising efforts have demonstrated the Commission’s ability to raise funds and spend them wisely.
However, the Fort Hawkins Commission must recognize its most important partners who have shaped the site’s past and hopefully future developments.
They are the City of Macon, the Peyton Anderson Foundation, and NewTown Macon.The city has supplied electricity, water, roofing, and minor repairs in maintaining the Blockhouse Replica since 1951.The city partnered with the Peyton Anderson Foundation and NewTown Macon in acquiring the majority of the Fort Hawkins city block.Peyton Anderson and NewTown have been instrumental in funding the site’s archaeology, the site’s security fence, and the site’s new “old gun.”Without these three partnering entities, all the progress that the Fort Hawkins site has made thus far would never have happened.The site’s progress and successes have now led to this site development plan and this critical juncture in the fort’s history.
To accomplish this site development plan a $3.5 million capital outlay fund is needed as detailed in Appendix XII.This figure includes $500,000 for capital funding that would prepare the Interpretive Visitor Center for the site opening to the public.One million is allocated for Site Archaeology that would develop the archaeological headquarters and continue the important site archaeological research.One million is allocated for Site Development that would complete the site’s improvements such as the two Blockhouses, Palisade Wall, Trading Post, and support services like security and lighting.One million is allocated for Site Endowment that will provide the needed operational and administrative funds to keep the site open to the public and keep the lights turned on.It should be noted that there are significant funds set aside for grant enhancement and it is the intention of using this $3.5 million to develop and open the site as well as to attract and raise more revenue.Fort Hawkins will not depend solely on this initial $3.5 million investment, but will immediately develop a multitude of revenue streams as indicated in this site development plan to insure the site’s future.
This seems such a relatively small investment for such a tremendous return in so many ways as detailed in this site development plan.A creative public-private partnership could deliver this site development plan immediately without becoming a burden upon the City of Macon and allowing the site to open and prove its worth in the many ways outlined in this site development plan.The Fort Hawkins Commission would not want the site to become a burden on the local, state, or national park systems and therefore envisions the fort site becoming an independent historic site.The Fort Hawkins Commission recognizes that as its mission is accomplished, a new entity will be needed to oversee the continued preservation and interpretation of this valuable historic site.Whether the site becomes the Fort Hawkins Historic Park, Inc. or the Fort Hawkins Trading Company or the Fort Hawkins Development Authority, the Fort Hawkins Commission has earned a place in this transition.
The financial plan that would implement this site development would partner the City of Macon with one or more of the fort’s philanthropic friends to create this new governing entity and thus secure the fort’s promising future.The City of Macon would first pledge to raise the needed $3.5 million for the fort’s development through grants and other qualified programs but not from the city
budget, which needs all the help it can get and will not be impacted by the fort funding.This will take a concerted effort with the Mayor and City Council, with the leadership of the City Council President and Community Resources & Development Committee Chairman, to create an official City Resolution to that effect.The City of Macon will also continue to offer limited in-kind services to the fort and continue to implement the site’s Phased Property Acquisition.
With the City of Macon pledging to raise the needed $3.5 million, the Fort Hawkins Commission will then contact the fort’s philanthropic friends to match this $3.5 million with an immediate grant, or loan, to get the fort site open and running as outlined in this site development plan.These requested funds would be administered by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia and the funding entity would define the new operating authority for the Fort Hawkins site.The Fort Hawkins Commission members who wish to continue their service would be asked to participate, which would include members from the public and private sector.This new governing authority would answer directly to the funding source or its designee and indirectly answer to the public every day with its educational and enjoyable site programming.The rich early American heritage found at Fort Hawkins deserves the very best, and this plan will finally professionally preserve, promote, and interpret this exciting history in an engaging, interactive, multidiscipline presentation.