Fort Wayne (2)

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Fort Wayne (2) (1843-1949) - First established in 1843 as a Northern Frontier Fort in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. Named in GO 6, 31 Jan 1849, after Major General Anthony Wayne, Revolutionary War General and hero of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Upgraded during the U.S. Civil War. The old star fort was transferred to the City of Detroit in 1949.

Fort Wayne Plan
1845 Stone Magazine
Fort Wayne 1848 Stone Barracks, Five Sections Each Holding 100 Men

Early Years

1845 Sallyport Exterior Entrance with 1860s Brick Wall
1845 Sallyport Interior Entrance

Construction began in 1843 under the supervision of Lt. Montgomery C. Meigs. The fortification was a star shaped Vauban style structure originally built with cedar faced earthen walls. The cedar facing was later replaced with brick and concrete. Among the buildings inside the walls were a four story limestone enlisted barracks, officer housing and a powder magazine. Two sallyports were built onto the interior angle walls of the east bastion, the northeast sallyport served as the main entrance to the fort while the southeast sallyport provided access to the demilune. The south bastion contained a large parade level stone magazine. In 1850 the newly constructed officer's quarters, located directly across from the stone barracks, burned down and was not replaced. Initial construction on the fort was completed in 1851 at a cost of $150,000.

Armament for the fort was to have been 56 guns including twenty-three 24-pounders, twenty 18-pounders, sixteen 12-pounders and four 8-inch howitzers at a cost of $ 44,724. None of the guns or ammunition was provided.

After completion the fort was placed on caretaker status with a single caretaker watching the fort.

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

1860s Rodman Gun Emplacements, East Bastion

The U.S. Civil War reactivated Fort Wayne and initiated more construction. Major changes were made to the exterior where the oak faced earthworks were replaced with a masonry wall and the bastions were modified with casemates for the flanking howitzers. Two service magazines were located in each bastion. The gun emplacements on the bastions were modified to hold front pintal mounted 10" and 15" Rodman guns but it is again unclear if any of the Rodman guns were mounted. A detached triangular demi-lune to protect the water side and provide additional waterside firepower was built in the late 1860s. The post served as a recruiting depot and processing center for Union recruits and as a recuperation center for returning veterans. Additional construction continued until the post closed.

Post Civil War

Restored 1880 Commanding Officer's Quarters

In the period following the U.S. Civil War the post became a replacement garrison for units rotating west to the Indian Wars. During the 1870s and 1880s additional quarters and a guardhouse were constructed outside the star fort on the southwest side of the post.

In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, the post served as a mustering point for troops headed for Cuba and the Philippines. In the aftermath of the Spanish American War the post was again expanded with large brick barracks built at the north end of the post and additional officer and NCO quarters on the southwest end.

World War I (1917-1918)

During World War I Fort Wayne began to serve as an acquisition center for military motor vehicles and parts. The Army had not yet motorized and was essentially still horse-drawn but by the end of the war the process of conversion was well under way.

Fort Wayne 1938 Aerial Photo

World War II (1941-1945)

1939 Movie Theater

Fort Wayne continued to serve as a training and logistics center throughout World War II. The post was again expanded with temporary World War II structures and some 220,000 square feet of warehouse space. Thousands of vehicles were tested and processed through Fort Wayne in support of the war effort. The large parade in front of officer's row was a marshaling yard for vehicles and supplies headed for the war.

In May 1949, title to the old star fort was transferred to the City of Detroit with a stipulation that it would remain a historical monument. Parts of the garrison post continued to support mobilizations and demobilizations through the Vietnam War and a portion of the post is in use today by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Current Status

Visitor Center (old Recreation Center)

Must See! Portions of the post are restored. Original buildings remaining include one 1848 limestone barracks (with later brick additions) and the 1845 star fortification with the 1860s brick facing. Outside the star fort are buildings from the 1880s, 1890s and the 1900s. An additional entrance to the fort has been cut through the west bastion to provide access from the star fort to the later period structures. Later period fort buildings surround the original star fort including large brick barracks, an officer's row, an NCO row, two different era guardhouses, a headquarters building and several multi-family married officers quarters. Nearly all of the temporary World War I and World War II buildings were removed.

Operated by Detroit Recreation Department, assisted by the Friends of Fort Wayne, the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, and the Detroit Historical Society. Access is by conducted tour and budget restrictions have limited when those can be conducted, always call ahead. Great folks working there but some of their hours are limited.

Location: Entrance at the intersection of Livernois & Jefferson West Streets, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan.

Maps & Images

Lat: 42.2994827 Long: -83.0960332

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 597'

Recent Blog Posts:


  • Gaines, William C., Fort Wayne: Detroit's "Seacoast" Fortification, The Coast Defense Journal, Vol 20, Issue 2, May 2006, page 4-29
  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 424


Visited: 16 Aug 2013

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