Jackson County Parks + Rec’s Fort Osage National Landmark and Education Center scheduled to re-open
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Fort Osage National Historic Landmark and Education Center will re-open to the public on February 27 under normal operating hours of 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
Owned and operated by Jackson County Parks + Rec, the Fort and Education Center have been closed after sustaining damage in a grass fire on the evening of February 18. Firefighters say strong winds and dry weather conditions caused the fire to spread to the historic landmark. Investigators have narrowed down where the grass fire possibly started, but an exact cause is officially undetermined. No one was hurt.
“We are extremely grateful for our Associate’s quick action in calling for help and to the many fire departments who responded,” said Parks + Rec Director Michele Newman. “It’s very fortunate that Fort Osage did not sustain more damage.”
The damage to the Fort was isolated to two block houses, the officer’s quarters and portions of the palisade fence. Damage to Block House 2 is limited to the roof. Damage to Block House 5 is limited to one cannon port. The officer’s quarters sustained significant interior damage, but remains structurally sound.
The grass fire extended within feet of the Education Center, but due to the concrete makeup of the building, there was no damage to the outside or inside of the structure. Smoke did enter the facility and has since been removed through new filters for the HVAC system.
The large majority of items impacted by the grass fire were reproduction items, such as rope beds and military uniforms. Those items are used for interpretation, which is an important component to the Fort Osage experience.
“Interpretation will not be affected by the grass fire, as these items are being replaced and can still be observed in other locations within the Fort Complex,” Newman said.
Scouting overnights, school tours and other events at the Fort will continue as planned. New this year are themed weekends, where visitors can enjoy fun experiences such as a mid-1800s wedding, a military court martial, hearth cooking and more.
Built in 1808 under the direction of William Clark of Lewis and Clark, Fort Osage functioned as one of the first military outposts and government trade houses in the Louisiana Purchase. Planning for the reconstruction of Fort Osage began in the 1940s, but was placed on hold during World War II. The construction of the Fort resumed in the late 40s into the 1950s. Fort Osage received its National Historic Landmark designation in 1961.
Located on the banks of the scenic Missouri River in Sibley, MO, the historic site has been reconstructed to portray Fort Osage as it was in 1812. Authentically-attired interpreters provide living history insights into the daily life of both the military and civilian populations.
The Education Center opened in November 2007 to augment educational programming to the thousands of students who participate in programs at the National Historic Landmark. The Center features an exhibit area, meeting rooms, an auditorium and conservation laboratory.