Fort Osage National Historic Landmark and Education Center will reopen Tuesday following the Feb. 18 grass fire that damaged portions of the reconstructed 1812 fort in Sibley.
The fort and Education Center had been closed indefinitely since the fire, which started near the bank of the Missouri River and, fanned by strong winds and dry weather conditions, quickly moved up the bluff before firefighters extinguished the flames. They will resume normal operating hours of 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, Jackson County Parks + Rec announced.
Investigators narrowed down the area where the grass fire likely started, but an exact cause is officially undetermined.
The Fort Osage damage was limited to two block houses – the roof on one and a cannon port on the other – the officers' quarters and portions of the stockade fence. The officers' quarters suffered significant interior damage but everything remained structurally sound. The most significant damage was to reproduction items used for interpretation, such as rope beds and military uniforms.
“We are extremely grateful for our associate's quick action in calling for help and to the many fire departments who responded,” Parks & Rec Michele Newman said in a release. “It's very fortunate that Fort Osage did not sustain more damage.
“Interpretation will not be affected by the grass fire, as these times are being replaced and can still be observed in other locations within the complex,” Newman said.
The Education Center, which is concrete, had no structural damage. Some smoke got inside the building but was removed through new HVAC filters.
The Fort Osage National Historic Landmark, owned and operated by Jackson County Parks & Recreation, was reconstructed to portray the fort as it was in 1812. William Clark directed its initial construction in 1808. Reconstruction, delayed by World War II, resumed in the 1940s into the 1950s. Fort Osage received its National Historic Landmark designation in 1961. Interpreters in period attire provide visitors with living history insights into the daily life of military and civilian personnel at the time. The Education Center opened in November 2007.