Fort Wayne is located in the city of Detroit, Michigan, at the foot of Livernois Avenue in the Delray neighborhood. The fort is situated on the Detroit River at a point where it is about a mile to the Canadian shore. The original 1848 limestone barracks (with later brick additions) still stands, as does the 1845 star fortification (renovated in 1863 with brick exterior facing). On the fort grounds but exterior to the original star fort are additional barracks, officers quarters, hospital, shops, recreation building, commissary, guard house, garage, and stables. Building continued on the site until 1931.
The fort sits on 96 acres (390,000 m2). Since the 1970s, 83 acres (340,000 m2), including the original star fort and a number of buildings, has been operated by the city of Detroit. The remaining area is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers as a boatyard.
Fort Wayne is Detroit's third fort. The first, Fort Detroit, was built by the French in 1701. This fort, constructed shortly after Cadillac landed, was manned by the French until it was surrendered to the British in 1760 during the French and Indian War. The second fort, Fort Lernoult, was built by the British a few years later, and was manned by the British until 1796. When the United States took over Detroit, Fort Lernoult was renamed Fort Shelby.
During the War of 1812, General William Hull surrendered Fort Shelby to the British during the Siege of Detroit without offering any resistance. The British later abandoned the fort and American troops reoccupied it. However, following the end of the war, Fort Shelby fell into disrepair. In 1826, it was sold to the City of Detroit and demolished.
In the late 1830s, Canadian and American rebels organized to free Canada from the British, leading to a series of battles known as the Patriot War. American troops were mustered to suppress the American volunteers and maintain America's official neutrality in the conflict. However, at the same time, the United States government realized there were a lack of fortifications along the northern border to repel a potential British attack, and in particular, no counterpart to the British Fort Malden located in Amherstburg. In 1841, Congress appropriated funds to build a chain of forts stretching from the east coast to the Minnesota Territory, including one at Detroit.
Soon afterward, the Army sent Lieutenant Montgomery C. Meigs to Detroit. Meigs bought up riverfront farm property three miles below Detroit, at the point on the Detroit River closest to Canada. Construction on the fort began in 1843, with Meigs superintending. The original fortifications were cedar-faced earthen walls. The fort was completed in 1851, costing $150,000. The Army named the new fort for Revolutionary War hero General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, who had taken possession of Detroit from the British in 1796.
Old Ft. Wayne Barracks 1902
This fortification, named after General Anthony Wayne, is located in the township of Springwell three and one half miles from the City Hall, at the only bend in the river, and also at its narrowest point. It commands the city and the river chanel. Its site was the camping ground of the troops rendezvousing for the Black Hawk Ware, also of the forces engaged in the Patriot Way of 1838.
The first appropriation of $50,000 for its construction was made on August 4, 1841; in 1842 the Government purchased 23 acres andin 1844 an additional 43 acres was procured. The fort was begun in 1843 and completed about 1851, at a cost of nearly $150,000.
General Meigs had entire charge of the construction. It was originally a square-bastioned fort, with sand embankments and red cedar scrap with enbrasures of oak. The cedar was brought from Kelley's Island, some three hundred workmen being sent thither for the purpose. Both the cedar and the oak were kyanzied and it was thought they would be very durable.
In 1864, under the superintendence of General T. J. Cram, the cedar scrap was removed and replaced with brickwork, seven and one half feet thick and 22 feet high, with a brick facing of about 18 inches, back of which is six feet of concrete. The top of the scrap wall extends about six feet above the former woodwork, and there is an empty space between it and the embankment. In case the top of the wall should be shot away, this space would serve as a receptacle for the falling brick and mortar, which would be very nearly as serviceable as a sand embankment in resisting the destructive effect of solid shot. The entire cost of these improvements was nearly $250,000.
History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan By Silas Farmer
Architect for the Fort and the Barracks: Montgomery C. Meigs
Architectural style for the fort: French military style of that era
Architectural style for the barracks: Austere Georgian with one federal style decorative element –
the elliptical window on the front
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: P 25117, Listed February 19, 1978.
State of Michigan Historical Marker: Erected 1977
National Register of Historic Sites: #71000425, Listed May 6, 1971