Home to the Civil War’s largest amphibious battle site, Fort Fisher State Historic Site is undergoing changes with the construction of a new Visitors Center and conservation lab after years of thoughtful planning.
Expansions and Upgrades
The new 20,000-square-foot Visitors Center will feature an orientation theater and additional exhibit space. Another amenity, the multi-purpose room, will serve rental and educational purposes. Tripling the existing facility’s size, the new Visitors Center will be better equipped to accommodate Fort Fisher’s ever-increasing number of annual visitors.
The Underwater Archaeology Branch of North Carolina’s Office of State Archaeology, which is located at Fort Fisher, will receive a new state-of-the-art conservation lab as part of the expansion. Additionally, planning and fundraising are underway to reconstruct a portion of Fort Fisher’s original earthen ramparts, which were previously demolished and replaced by a World War II landing strip.
These renovations will expand public spaces and enhance the overall experience in light of Fort Fisher’s continuing growth. The original Visitors Center, site grounds and restrooms will remain open to the public during the site’s expansion.
Where History Comes to Life
Throughout the renovation process, Fort Fisher State Historic Site will continue serving visitors and showcasing the area’s storied history. Indoors, the current Visitors Center boasts exhibits and artifacts from sunken ships like the Condor, a blockade runner that now lies 700 yards off the beach. Outdoors, visitors can view the fort’s remaining earthworks and a restored seacoast cannon along the oak-lined tour trail. An additional trail connects to the Battle Acre Monument and an oceanfront gazebo.
With Fort Fisher’s new Visitors Center and lab construction underway, the public can expect to see a few changes. The initial phase will require the fencing off and eventual excavation of the existing parking lot.
The public parking lot has migrated to a temporary location south of the museum, known as the South Airstrip. Approximately 200 yards from the museum is a gravel road off U.S. Highway 421 with access to the grassy visitor parking area. Parking blocks and directional signage will help direct vehicle and pedestrian traffic. As a result of the temporary parking migration, all pedestrian traffic will be directed to the museum's southern entrance.
Changes to the landscape at Fort Fisher State Historic Site began in late October and are only starting to ramp up. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Visitors Center and conservation lab is scheduled for November. The site attracts more and more people each year, and the new renovations will ensure it continues educating and inspiring visitors for years to come.