The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 29, 2013

Finishing touches placed at new Fort Augusta model in Sunbury

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — Work on the newly restored Fort Augusta model at the Northumberland County Historical Society’s headquarters in Sunbury is complete, though the group hopes to add some finishing touches to the grounds to allow better access to the model.

A small ceremony will be held early next month to mark the completion of the model, while a larger grand opening ceremony will be held in July, said Northumberland County Historical Society Board of Directors member Michael McWilliams, who oversaw the project.

“This has been a labor of love,” he said.

The 32-foot model is at a one-sixth scale model of the original fort, which sat on the site and helped ward off French and Indian attacks during the French and Indian War, as well as aid American efforts during the American Revolution, McWilliams said.

“It was a deterrent,” he said. “It also helped river traffic through this area.”

The model is a replica of a model which was built in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration. However, that model had poor drainage and the building began to rot, causing the state to tear down the model in 1981, McWilliams said.

However, A Northumberland man bought the model buildings and kept them until about 2010, when the Historical Society purchased them in hopes of rebuilding the model.

“This has been in the works for six or seven years,” McWilliams said.

And while the model itself is complete, the group is still looking for donations to cover the cost of the model, which cost about $160,000 total: about $131,000 for the construction of the fort and $26,000 for the restoration of the original fort model’s buildings, McWilliams said. The group also hopes to add a second observation ramp to allow visitors to view more angles of the model and make the model handicap-accessible when the museum is closed, as well as a sidewalk to line the model.

“We need people who want this model here to donate,” McWilliams said.

So far, the historical society has raised about $22,000 toward the fort, he said.

In the long term, the Historical Society wants to paint a mural on the flood wall across Front Street to depict the view as it would have looked from the fort in its glory days, McWilliams said.

But for now, McWilliams is satisfied with how the model itself has turned out.

“It’s been a big undertaking,” he said. “The biggest we’ve ever done.”