Plan to revitalize Historic Fort Snelling includes $34 million request

Rendering of building 18, historic cavalry barrack. (Photo Courtesy: Leo A. Daly)
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota's first National Historic Landmark is in need of some upgrades.

The Minnesota Historical Society is asking the state legislature for $34 million in state bonding money to revitalize Historic Fort Snelling. They also plan to raise $12 million in private funds.

"What you'll hear here and see here you'll not be able to see anywhere in the United States, in this whole country, when we're finished with this project," said Tom Pfannenstiel, site manager at Historic Fort Snelling.

The project revitalization includes demolishing the current underground visitor center and landscaping the space. The current center has been plagued with maintenance problems, including flooding. One of the cavalry barracks from 1904 would serve as the new visitor center and orientation area. The Minnesota Historical Society also wants to establish a river walk right on the bluff.

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"When people come to the site, we really see that people are looking for the river... They really don't get to see a sense of why Historic Fort Snelling was established here, at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers," Pfannenstiel said.

Besides renovations, Pfannenstiel said they want to include the community more through new exhibits and programs.

"This place will be a much more active place. It will be a bigger place, where people can learn many more narratives and stories. There's 10,000 years of history here at Fort Snelling," he said.

Pfannenstiel is hopeful state lawmakers will include their bonding request. Gov. Mark Dayton put the $34 million in his 2016 Capital Budget recommendations.

If the Minnesota Historical Society secures the money needed, the renovations would be ready by 2020, the Fort's bicentennial.