Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

BEHIND THE SCENES

October 10, 1999|By Karin Remesch

Mission: To preserve the star-shaped fort, associated buildings, archaeology and landscapes as a perpetual national monument and as a shrine of the birthplace of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the nation's anthem, and to interpret the fort's military history in the defense of Baltimore during the War of 1812 for generations to come. The survival of the fort's giant 15-star flag in the "dawn's early light" of Sept. 14, 1814, after an unsuccessful British attack, inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem. Fort McHenry is managed by the National Park Service and assisted by the Patriots of Fort McHenry, a volunteer group. The Patriots promote fort preservation and enhancement, and educational activities.

Latest accomplishments: A multimillion-dollar rehabilitation of the fort's masonry structures is nearing completion; new exhibits were installed in the fort's commanding officer's quarters; the orientation film was converted to digital format and shortened to allow more showings; and the site was made a part of the National Historic Seaport of Baltimore. There have also been a variety of events, including "The Star-Spangled Banner" weekend in September and the Civil War weekend in the spring.

On the horizon: A new visitor education center is planned. The Patriots hope to renovate a donated building near the fort. The group received a $500,000 state bond in 1996 toward its efforts.

About the fort: Attendance: 680,000 annually. Operating budget: $1,564,000.

Where and when: End of East Fort Avenue, Baltimore. Daily hours: grounds, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; visitor center, 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Daily flag change, 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., weather permitting. Call 410-962-4290.

Alan Walden, chairman of Patriots Advisory Board: "Fort McHenry is arguably the most precious 48 acres in the United States, because it is the birthplace of 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' The Patriots of Fort McHenry are committed to living history at this special place and determined to support the efforts of the National Park Service in its preservation and enhancement of our only national shrine."

Members of the advisory board

Richard Baker

Robert "Biff" Bartholomew

Morgan "Trip" Bailey

Joyce Bauerle

T. Talbot Bond

Thomas Chagouris

Tom Clancy

Robert Davis

Thomas Davis

Charles Eccles

James Gilpatrick

Edwin Hale

Gen. Thomas Johnson

Brian McHale

Damon Roach

William Donald Schaefer

Col. Vernon Sevier

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