Jacksonville, Fla., August 29, 2016 – North Florida Land Trust is getting close to raising the money needed to save the Spanish American War Fort, but they need some hero donors to step up to help close the deal. An anonymous donor and her family has offered to match donations up to $39,000 in order to raise the final money needed to complete the purchase. The Jaguars Foundation recently gave $10,000 towards the efforts and local attorney Wayne Hogan donated $5,000, which means the organization needs just $24,000 more donated dollars to get to the $400,000 needed to purchase the property.
“We really need donors to come through now and give us the final push to save the fort,” said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT. “We are so grateful to those that have pledged to get us closer to where we need to be to purchase the property – the generous woman and her family, who wish to remain anonymous, the City of Jacksonville and the Delores Barr Weaver Fund. Now we just need those final donors to come forward to save this wonderful piece of Jacksonville history.”
NFLT currently has a purchase agreement with the owner, an individual who bought the property at a tax auction and planned to tear down the fort to build a house on the site. Jacksonville’s City Council recently approved $162,500 from the Jacksonville Recreational & Environmental Land Acquisition Capital Projects Fund to help with the purchase of the property. The Delores Barr Weaver Fund also gave NFLT a challenge grant of up to $100,000 to preserve the fort.
NFLT is the acquisition and fundraising partner of the National Park Service on this project. Once the purchase is complete, they will hand it over to the National Park Service who will add it to the Fort Caroline National Memorial as a public access park. The preservation will make sure the only actual fort in Duval County remains intact. The property will be a critical addition to the National Park Service’s interpretive and community education outreach programming.
The 1898 Spanish-American War artillery battery fort was one of four forts on St. Johns Bluff that acted in defense of the river and is the only one that still remains. The first, Ft. Caroline, was constructed in 1564 by French Huguenots. It was later taken by the Spanish and renamed Fort San Mateo. The exact location is not known, but it is believed changes in the river left it submerged. An English fort was constructed in 1778 and was likewise lost when man-made changes to St. Johns Bluff caused considerable erosion along the marsh. A Confederate Earthworks was built in 1862 and has been buried and now lies underneath a residential development.