Portland’s Fort Gorges is among the most endangered historic places in the state, according to a nonprofit group that promotes preservation efforts.

The Civil War-era fort that sits on Hog Island Ledge in Casco Bay is among nine places across the state listed on Maine Preservation’s 21st annual list of endangered properties. Other properties include Maine camps and cottages; the Charles A. Jordan House in Auburn; the Callendar House in Bar Harbor; the Henry Tallman House in Bath; the Old Town House in Belgrade; the Chaloner House in Lubec; Readfield Union Meetinghouse in Readfield; and the Fales Homestead in Thomaston.

“Maine’s 2019 Most Endangered Historic Places List demonstrates the wide range of buildings that make Maine special,” Greg Paxon, executive director of Maine Preservation, said in a statement. “From high-style mansions and small, rustic vernacular homes, to both grand and humble meeting houses – and one enormous fort – the 2019 list reflects the diversity of our built environment and the strong sense of place and history they provide us as key parts of what makes Maine, Maine. But without concerted public action, these significant historic places could be lost forever.”

Fort Gorges, a city park accessible only by small boat or kayak, was included on the list because of the threat caused by its exposure over the last 155 years to punishing weather. Built in 1864 but never garrisoned, the granite fort is in need of stabilization and repairs to prevent further deterioration and ensure public access.

Fort Gorges, a Portland Harbor landmark seen last week with Portland in the distance. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and is widely recognized as a local landmark.

“Decades of deferred maintenance mean there is a pressing need for stabilization and repair of the masonry walls and the crumbling wharf. Most critically, there is no strong, committed or funded vision for this irreplaceable historic site. If action is not taken, the fort could become unsafe for visitors, and most of the historic fabric will succumb to the elements,” Maine Preservation said.

Maine Preservation noted that new interest from a developer who would like to turn part of the fort into a restaurant “has focused attention and energy on the fort’s future” as the Friends of Fort Gorges prepare to launch a $250,000 fundraising campaign to address immediate preservation needs.

During a public forum last week on the future of Fort Gorges, the majority of participants said they would support using a combination of public and private funding to support preservation, but wanted either no or minimal commercial activities on the 2-acre property.

Since Maine Preservation started the annual list in 1996, it has highlighted the threats to 165 places. Of those places, 60 have been saved, 36 are currently undergoing preservation and 20 have been lost.

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