Monday, June 11, 2012

Fort Totten

The City of New Bern opened Fort Totten on June 15, 1953, for the beginning of their annual Summer Recreation program. Originally constructed by the occupying Union Forces during the Civil War, remains of the fort's ramparts were still evident in the 1920s.
  Historian Dick Lore wrote in 1998 that "one notable failure at historic preservation ... occurred in New Bern in the 1920s, and our Society [i.e. the New Bern Historical Society] must shoulder at least some of the blame for this failure."
Interior view of Fort Totten as seen in 1884.
Photo from William Garrison Reed Photo Album owned by the library.
  During the 1920s, the subdivision called De Graffenried Park was just being developed and the owners were deciding what to do with the land occupied by the old fort. They offered to donate the land to any historical association willing to maintain it. The Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy declined the offer. The New Bern Historical Society formed a committee to look into the matter, but eventually, declined the offer as well.
  Eventually the mounds of dirt forming the walls of the fort were removed and a playground and ball field were erected on the area. While the city and county became the owners of the property, New Bern City Schools used the property for various functions up to the 1950s. In 1950, New Bern and Craven County offered to sell the property to the Sudan Shriners to build an auditorium. Those plans never materialized, and the Shriners built their auditorium on Broad Street. The City eventually took over maintenance of the park and opened it on June 15, 1953.

[Information from Richard Lore "The New Bern Historical Society: The First Seventy-five Years" Journal of the New Bern Historical Society 11:1 (May 1998), 3-40; and The Sun Journal, January 18, 1950; May 2, 1951; and June 13, 1953]