Volunteers enlist to defend fort
New London - The granite block edifice, built more than 160 years ago to protect the people who protected Connecticut's coast, continues to encounter threats.
And the seemingly impenetrable fortress is weakening under the pressure.
Fort Trumbull is under assault from the elements. Rain, wind, moisture and time have battered the interior façades and pierced the walls that protect the historic gun casements lining the fort, including one that still has a cannon aimed out over the Thames River, manned by four bronze soldiers. The walls in the 19th-century, restored living quarters are chipped and worn.
On Saturday military forces, representing the past and present, came to the rescue. For the first time, Fort Trumbull State Park was designated by the Civil War Trust as a site for its annual Park Day Program.
Carolyn Ivanoff and Irving Moy of Company F, 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, a re-enactment and living history group, coordinated the workday for about 30 volunteers, including 18 Coast Guard cadets, who scraped in the morning so crews working later could plaster and paint.
"That was really helpful," Moy said as he worked with a brush and bucket of gray paint, touching up a wall where it merged with the arch of the rust-red colored ceiling. "They were great. They peeled away plaster, down to where we could repair the leaks."
Moy said as much as all of the crews were able to do Saturday, it basically is patch work.
"This is cosmetic, to get it looking good for when the Tall Ships come," he said. "It'll look good until more solid repairs can be made."
Volunteers from the 14th worked the full day. Besides helping with the painting, they cleaned and set up exhibits, including officers' family quarters, a circa-1950s office space, and the engineers' quarters.
Without volunteers, Carolyn Ivanoff of Seymour said, more of America's history would be lost. She said that was why she recommended Fort Trumbull to the Civil War Trust as this year's target operation.
She recalled visiting the Fort last year and talking with two women. They told her how much they loved volunteering at there, but more important, how concerned they were about the deterioration.
"Local history is so important to preserve. These are open air classrooms," Ivanoff said. "It's more than the place where history happened. It's honoring that history and safeguarding that history for future generations."
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