Chronology of Town Ownership

1964
Residents of Cape Elizabeth vote to buy Fort Williams. On December 1, 1964, Town of Cape Elizabeth acquires Fort Williams for “educational and recreational purposes” at a price of $200,000. Town invites University of Maine or the Cape Elizabeth School Department to locate facilities there. Both groups decline.

1965
Town forms Urban Renewal Authority (URA). Rancorous debate over plans to redevelop half of the Fort for residential, community, and limited commercial purposes, and half for a park with loop road, divides the Town.

1970
Redevelopment plans are rejected and URA disbands. Later in year, Portland City Manager proposes Fort be used for housing projects. Cape Elizabeth vetoes idea.

1971
Cape Elizabeth Town Council approves study by TRIGOM, a consortium of Maine colleges and the University of Maine, for use of Fort as a scientific research center.

1973
TRIGOM fails to fund center and project dies. Town decides to use Fort for municipal and recreational purposes. Two tennis courts built.

1974
Town decides Fort should be used as a park. National Guard grades field by Head Light, cleans cove area and, in cooperation with Town, demolishes deteriorating buildings.

1976
Town Council adopts policy dedicated to preserving Fort Williams primarily for uses as a park. Fort Williams Advisory Committee appointed. Improvements at Fort continue with aid of grants and volunteers.

1979
Town Council designates Fort Williams as “Fort Williams Park.”

Adapted from Nancy Masterton’s 1990 document, “From Fort To Park.”

Historical Photos Courtesy of Ken Thompson

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