Nassau, Bahamas, October 24, 2016—Fort Fincastle, the Water Tower, the Queen’s Staircase and the environs are set for major upgrades over the next several months, after recent Cabinet approvals to revitalize the country’s most visited historic attraction. Plans include restoration of the Water Tower, cleanup of the surrounding areas, acquisition and lease of neighboring properties, a commercialized restaurant, proposals to terrace the area, as well as improved parking and exhibition opportunities. On completion, the area will be known as the Fort Fincastle Heritage Park.
It is estimated that one million visitors explore the site annually, with 150,000 plus persons taking part in paid tours organized by the Antiquities, Monuments & Museums Corporation (AMMC) personnel. The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) continues to rank the area as one of the most iconic heritage sites on the island.
Built on Bennett’s Hill in the 1790s by Lord Dunmore, the fort is named after the governor’s second title, Viscount Fincastle. Its unique paddle-wheel steamer shaped is cut from pure limestone. The fort overlooks Nassau and Paradise Island; the Fort once protected the eastern entrances to the island with two 24-pounder, two 32-pounder, two 12-pounder cannons and one howitzer. Due to its high elevation, the site served as a lighthouse for Nassau until September 1817, when the lighthouse on Paradise Island replaced it.
According to Courtney Strachan, Chairman of AMMC, the overall economic impact of the project will create new employment opportunities and benefit persons in the tourism sector. “We’re excited to revitalized this particular section of Nassau’s historic district. The area has the potential to generate a huge revenue stream for AMMC and once completed, will enhance the historic offerings for visitors seeking an authentic look at our city’s past,” he explained. Mr. Strachan believes that the revitalization will make Fort Fincastle an even greater attraction in years to come.
The full restoration of the Water Tower, inclusive of a new elevator, is highly anticipated after closure of the facilities more than a decade ago, and will be fully accessible. The tower was a part of New Providence’s initial municipal water system, supplying 375,000 gallons per day to the northeastern end of the island. As the highest point in Nassau, the structure was built in 1928 and is 126 feet high and approximately 216 feet above sea level.
Another major component of the redevelopment is the refurbishment of the Queen’s Staircase. The “66 steps”, as they are commonly referred, were carved out of solid limestone between 1893-1894.
“Upon completion of the Fort Fincastle Heritage Park, our team will focus on the mission of ensuring that the site grows its traffic and becomes a financially sustainable entity,” Strachan added. Special emphasis will be placed on improved security with the establishment of a Police Station.
Additional project goals will involve improved site signage and the Corporation will conduct a series of Town Hall Meetings to engage stakeholders (particularly residents of the area) on this project.