The reconstructed Fort Wayne is a faithful copy of the post built by American troops under the command of Major John Whistler in 1815-1816. The original complex was perhaps the most sophisticated all-wooden fort ever built in North America, and it was designed to be easily defended against Indian attack by a garrison of only 50 to 75 men. Two lines of pickets, heavy gates and well-placed blockhouses ensured that undesired entrance was impossible. It was not fear of the Indians, but rather the rapid westward movement of the frontier that caused Fort Wayne to be abandoned after only three years of use.
Through the efforts of many dedicated citizens of modern Fort Wayne, the "Old Fort" has been reconstructed on a plot of ground less than a quarter of a mile from the original site. Here life in the last frontier Army post of Indiana is being recreated. The modern garrison, dressing the clothing of the period, demonstrates the everyday crafts and activities which kept body and soul together at a nineteenth century military-trading post.
Historic Fort Wayne, Inc. opened on or around July 4, 1976. At that time Historic Fort Wayne was open to the public daily with reenactors on site. There was a modest charge to visit. The Historic Fort Wayne then closed on September 24, 1993. The city of Fort Wayne and the History Center took over operations and with the assistance of Arts United a major renovation was completed in the mid 1990's. Historic Fort Wayne then reopened but revenue and attendance was not adequate to maintain the facility so the operation was shut again. In October of 2004 a new group also titled Historic Fort Wayne, Inc. was given a one year trial to operate the Fort and in June of 2005 the first scheduled events were taking place. With the assistance of the Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department this community asset remains open to the public during special events held throughout the year as listed below. The Fort is open to walk through and around at any time but you will not have access to the interior of the buildings.
A Winter Garrison 1775-1781
Saturday, March 12, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 13, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Winter on the Indiana frontier comes alive at the Old Fort as members of American Revolution reenacting units recreate the daily duties of officers, enlisted men and their families in the late 1700’s, including musket repair and military drills. Artisans will also display period crafts and activities. Warm yourself by the fire and explore the unique experiences of those who forged our country.
Civil War Drill
Saturday, March 19, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
By order of President Lincoln, the 44th Indiana Infantry Regiment will muster at Fort Wayne for drill and training. All civilians are invited to come out and cheer our boys on.
British Garrison (Seven Years War)
Saturday, April 9, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Elite troops of land and sea loyal to the King of England gather to prepare for battle, train new recruits and enjoy rest and recreation in the comfort of the Old Fort.
13th Pennsylvania Drill: 1776-1782
Saturday, April 16, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Discover the rigors of daily life for a soldier at a wilderness fort. Members of the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foote (infantry) will recreate the daily duties of officers, enlisted men and their families during the American Revolution.
Early Modern Muster of Arms:
Soldiers of Pike and Shot
Saturday, April 23, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
The Fort will play host to a mercenary company representing the years 1500-1650. Soldiers from England, Spain, France, Germany and Poland will converge on the fort to train and become a unified fighting force, showcasing the life and times of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. See what soldiers and civilians in the Age of Discovery wore and ate, as well as how they trained in their trade and interacted with one another.
Muster on the St. Mary’s:
A Time Line Event
Saturday, May 14, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 15, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Have you ever wanted to talk with Dr. Benjamin Franklin? Do you know what weapons the army in the medieval era used? What were the French Settlers like when they inhabited this area? Historical re-enactors representing times from the early Romans through the American Civil War converge on Fort Wayne’s Historic Old Fort. Demonstrations will be given on period cooking, gardening, military life, and much more. Stop in and experience first-hand the life and activities of the people from across the ages.
The 2016 Event Schedule (Available soon) with additional information about all of our special events throughout the year is now available on-line.
Interesting Historical Links:
Historical Marker Information from Ethan Bennett, PhD Candidate, Washington University, St. Louis
(Link to the Fort Wayne History Center)
(General description of the 3rd Fort's builder, Major John Whistler)
Detail of relationship of 3rd Fort to Fort Dearborn (Chicago), William Wells, a prominent figure of Fort Wayne, Indian Agent and Captain under Anthony Wayne
Make plans now to visit the Old Fort!
Life at the Old Fort
The Fort is located on Spy Run, north of Superior. Parking can be found at Headwaters and Lawton Parks and entrance to the Historic Old Fort is through Headwaters Park as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On June 9 I helped lead a tour of Clements Library Associates to several places in the city of Fort Wayne. These folks are members of the supporting friends group of the Library, one of the nation's great repositories of primary source documents on American history. Fort Wayne, I might add, is well represented in our collections as we hold the papers of Josiah Harmar and Anthony Wayne as well as the Fort Wayne Indian Agency letter book.
While our group enjoyed their time in the city and at the History Center, the highlight of their visit was the Old Fort. The Historic Fort Wayne volunteers, led by Tom Grant, went well beyond the call of duty to welcome us, show us the fort, and conduct demonstrations on a
Thursday afternoon. Our group was so interested that it overstayed its scheduled time to explore the fort and talk with the volunteers. These volunteers are a very dedicated group of people, and I hope you will lend them whatever support you can in their efforts to preserve the Old Fort and enliven it for visitors. Thanks too to the Parks Department for its efforts to preserve the buildings and beautify the grounds.
On a more personal note, I was particularly touched by the volunteers' efforts to keep the Old Fort alive, as I was the first managing director of the original Historic Fort Wayne, Inc. (1974-79) and supervised construction and furnishing of the buildings and establishment of the live interpretation program. I greatly enjoyed my time in that position and as a citizen of Fort Wayne. The city looked good, and I was proud to share it and some of my memories with the Clements Library Associates.
With best wishes,
Brian Leigh Dunnigan
Associate Director and Curator of Maps
William L. Clements Library
909 South University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
To whom it may concern;
My name is Mark Wilkins, and I am an Indiana Author, who is working on my 7th book on Indiana folklore and history. I am writing to let you know that as a part of my current work, I had the occasion to spend the night at Historic Fort Wayne, and was incredibly impressed with both the Fort itself, as well as the passion and professionalism of the volunteers who maintain it.
I have traveled all across our state, and I can assure you there is nothing else quite like Historic Fort Wayne. The knowledge and professionalism of the historical interpreters made it all come alive for me, and I am looking forward to including the stories of the Fort in my next book.
I just wanted to thank you and the City of Fort Wayne for your support of this historic wonderful and educational asset. It really is wonderful, and you are justifiably proud.
I wanted to pass along to you a recent interaction I had with the folks at Old Historic Fort Wayne. My name is Kyle Gibson and I represent Boy Scout Troop 120 from Southport, Indiana . In December I contacted Ken Sorg from OHFW on a possible trade. We were willing to come to the fort and do a weekend service project in exchange for a chance to stay at and learn about the fort. Ken and others on staff were nothing but accommodating in getting us set up with a weekend in March. Myself and 8 other adults along with 19 scouts showed up Friday night late never having been to the fort and not really knowing what to expect. Ken met us at the gate, gave us a quick tour, and gave us our project for the weekend. We were all amazed at the fort and could barely keep the boys focused on the task at hand of unloading the trailer and getting things set up. The next day the staff even went as far as to send over a reenactor/historian to come by and spend an hour with the boys to educate them on the fort as well as some about the city. The weekend was an overwhelming success as far as we considered and I hope that the fort found our work to be satisfactory. The following meeting on Tuesday, I was bombarded by the 12 or so boys that could not make the camp out asking when we are going back because word had already spread quickly to them that they missed a great camp out. I also heard from parents that they were planning trips up to the fort this summer for some of the reenactment weekends on schedule. You have a wonderful draw to your city with the fort that is only enhanced by a wonderful and dedicated staff.
Thank you all
My name is Tom Wojcinski, and I am a resident of Hammond, IN. I am also an avid historian, and historical reenactor.
Let me take this time to say that your City has one of the best historic sites in the country. Old Fort Wayne is a treasure and a great assist to your community for educating people about local history. The site directors are tireless volunteers who's hard work and dedication help create one of the most hospitable and welcoming historic sites for Reenactors in the country. I have been reenacting since 1990, 21 years now, and I must say that the ambiance, physical structure, and as I said, hospitality of the site at Old Fort Wayne is one of the best I have ever been too!
Recently, this past weekend, I worked closely with several members of the site staff, including Tom and Karen Grant, and Sean O'Brien to organize and run a living history event at the Fort site. It is a joy to be able to utilize a site like Old Fort Wayne in the middle of the winter time and to demonstrate what life was like for the first settlers of Fort Wayne during the winter several hundred years ago. Our event focused on the first settlement in what is now Fort Wayne, when the area was under the control of the French Colonial Empire and Fort Wayne was known as Post des Miamis (the Post among the Miamis Indians). Our event had 50 reenactors attend all portraying early French settlers and Local Native American tribes who would have been living in the area some 260 years ago. We had reenactors attend from as far away as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, mainly due to the reputation of the event and the site for high standards of authenticity and great hospitality toward reenactors.
The event focused not on battles or combat, but on the day to day lives of the early inhabitants of Fort Wayne in the winter time. In addition we carried out two reenactments of actual events in the history of the city which occurred 260 years ago, one being a reenactment of a council between the French and a Miamis Chief named Le Gris, and the other being a reenactment of the arrest of John Pathin, an English trader who managed to make it into French territory and was discovered near the French fort trading with the Miamis Indians.
This quality event, can only be possible due to the quality site and staff of your cities historic fort.
Thank you for the opportunity to use your site and visit your historically rich city.
Les Habitants du Post des Miamis (reenacted)