By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The US Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton is steeped in history. Located on Brooklyn’s southwest waterfront in Bay Ridge, the fort was built in 1825, when the US was still a young nation. The famous names that have served there throughout its history include Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
The fort, the only active military base in New York City, is interested in preserving its history, according to Col. Eluyn Gines, the commanding officer. Gines welcomed elected officials, community leaders, and veterans to a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 5 to mark the reopening of the Harbor Defense Museum, a one-story building on the fort’s grounds housing a treasure trove of historical items.
The museum, housed in Building No. 230 on the fort, had been closed for several months for a $1.3 million renovation project. The work included waterproofing the building’s roof and masonry walls and installing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
The reopening marked the beginning of a new era, Gines said. “This is a special event Fort Hamilton and for our community,” he said.
“The passion for history and the commitment to preservation are alive and well at the Fort Hamilton Garrison,” said Richard Cox, the museum’s director.
Founded in 1980, the Harbor Defense Museum is the only army museum in New York City. The exhibits include uniforms from the Revolutionary War, machine guns and ammunition from World War II, a fragment of the World Trade Center, a Civil war-era muzzle fragment from a Confederate soldier, and an engraved trophy cup that was presented to the National Guard of the 27th Regiment in New York in 1839.
The museum is located in the garrison’s caponier, a freestanding structure within a moat that was built in the 19th Century and was designed to defend the fort from attacks coming from New York Harbor.
The Lonely Planet guide for travelers lists the museum among its places to visit in New York, praising its “small treasure trove of artifacts.
The building is open for visitors Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on the first Saturday of the month. Admission is free. For more information, call 718-630-4349.