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UMFK Acadian Archives to host exhibit by curator and antiquarian Chad Pelletier

August 15, 2007


The University of Maine at Fort Kent Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes will host an exhibit by curator and antiquarian Chad Pelletier entitled, “Fort Kent Blockhouse Town Symbol and Tourist Attraction.” 

The exhibit can be viewed from Thursday, August 23 through Friday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The multimedia exhibit will show the blockhouse’s status as a building after the Aroostook War.  Nearly all forms of artistic media will be featured such as early drawings, photographs, paintings, carvings and publications. In addition, the gallery will have various souvenirs from the 1890s to the present day and how the blockhouse is a symbol of the town. 

Anyone driving on Fort Kent’s Main Street surely has noticed the restoration efforts at the blockhouse. In June 2006, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Land announced that they along with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to replace the roof and rebuild the dormers that had been removed in 1926. 

The Fort Kent Blockhouse was built in 1839 by the Maine State Militra during the height of the Maine /New Brunswick boundary dispute.  The fort was then called Fort Jarvis after Charles Jarvis, a Maine land agent.        

The fort was built to guard two booms that has been placed across the Fish River and the St. John River and to monitor the logs going down the river. 

In 1841, Captain Lucien B. Websters of the United States Army took command of the fort after it was renamed Fort Kent Blockhouse in honor of Maine’s Governor, Edward Kent. Captain Webster extensively remodeled the Blockhouse to the building that we see today. 

The fort was abandoned in 1845, and in 1859 it was sold by the state of Maine to ‘private hands.’ From 1859 to 1891 the blockhouse served as a store house and may have served as a family home for a short time. 

After eleven years of lobbying, Maine legislator Major William Dickey was able to convince the state of Maine to repurchase the blockhouse for $300. Two years later, $500 was appointed to repair the dilapidated structure. 

In 1925, the Valley’s oldest Historical Society was founded. The blockhouse was adopted by it and proceeded to repair. In 1926 the roof was replace and the dormers were not restorable. 

In the early 1950s, Robert Jalbert, along with the Fort Kent boy scouts, undertook a massive renovation, which included removing the clapboard and preventing the collapse of the structure.  The boy scouts began a collaboration with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands that endures to this day. 

For more information, call Pelletier at 834-2115.