Naper Settlement's Fort Payne could be without one of its pillar blockhouses for quite some time.
Spokeswoman Donna DeFalco said Thursday that the blockhouse, damaged in a fire earlier this month, likely will be demolished. A decision has not been made regarding whether the structure will be rebuilt.
"We may just end up taking down the blockhouse and replacing it with stockade fencing so we can complete the corner of the fort and reopen it to the public," DeFalco said. "The fort is an important part of our programming, including Camp Naper, so we want to get that fenced off and open again as soon as possible."
Volunteers re-created the fort in 1979. The original Fort Payne was built in 1832 during the Blackhawk War and stood on the current site of North Central College. Settlement officials say the re-creation has remained one of museum's more popular buildings among children and adults alike.
Deputy Fire Chief Rick Sander said Thursday that the May 19 fire was determined to have been caused by an "improvised or homemade sparkler device" likely used by a participant of the Civil War Days encampment being held at the settlement that weekend.
DeFalco said a decision about rebuilding the blockhouse is completely dependent on the final design of a $340,000 "tactile learning environment" called the Fort Payne Learning Playscape.
Design work has just begun on the project, which originally was scheduled to be installed this year. Construction was put on hold indefinitely after the project recently was denied a state Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant that was expected to cover half of the cost. The settlement must now raise the entire $340,000.
"We have to wait until the design plans for the playscape are finalized before we decide what to do about the blockhouse because it was supposed to be incorporated into the design of the playscape," DeFalco said.
The playscape, an integral part of the settlement's master plan, would feature a splash-pad water-play area, a performance stage and a large interactive covered wagon.