Welcome To The Friends of Fort Taylor Website!
The Friends of Fort Taylor is a non-profit corporation, 501(c)(3), and is comprised of people just like you who have an interest in supporting Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. The Friends are a Citizen Support Organization of the Florida Park Service and work toward helping the park preserve its natural and cultural resources. As a non-profit, the organization is able to provide financial assistance to the Florida Park Service, which manages the property. Click on the “News” button to read the latest news about the fort and the Friends and see our event calendar.
Helping Support Our State Park
In order to raise funding for the continued preservation of the park’s natural and cultural resources and heighten community awareness about the park and its National Historic Landmark, the Friends sponsor two annual historical re-enactment events within the grounds of the fort. The Friends have also hosted musical concerts by the Key West Symphony Orchestra and the Florida Keys Community College Chorale Group inside the fort. The Friends are committed to preserving the parks resources and its history. The Friends recently commissioned the manufacture of upper carriages for excavated seacoast cannon to protect the cannon. You can help preserve history, too, by becoming a member of the Friends of Fort Taylor and volunteer. Your contributions may be tax deductible!
The Friends of Fort Taylor were instrumental in assisting the Florida Park Service in putting together a Unit Management Plan for the park. With this document, the Friends are able to apply for state and federal grants to help stabilize the forts remaining structures. The Friends of Fort Taylor have also funded the purchase of an historical marker that designated Fort Taylor as a State of Florida Historic Site. Through fund raising efforts, the Friends of Fort Taylor purchased custom-made cannon mounts for the Civil War-era cannon excavated and on display inside the fort’s casemates.
Fort Taylor was constructed in 1845. It was part of a national defense system that at the time was designed to protect the nation’s busiest seaports and harbors. The fortress was built nearly a quarter of a mile off Key West at the southern entrance to Key West Harbor. The project was close to completion when the American Civil War began. Federal troops, already stationed at the Key West Barracks, moved into the fort to secure it for the Union. Fort Taylor remained in Union control throughout the conflict. Its mission was to assist the Union Navy’s East Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron with enforcement of the blockade of southern ports. During the Spanish-American War, the fortress served as a Coast Artillery installation. World War I and World II saw the fort serve as a training facility for U.S. forces. To learn more about the history of the fortress, please visit Fort Taylor.org.
Fort Taylor was removed from “active duty” in 1947. It was turned over to the Navy which used the property for storage. The water property surrounding the fort was filled with land from dredging projects in the mid 1960s. In 1968 Key West resident Howard England began excavations inside the fort in search of Civil War era seacoast cannon and other artifacts. Numerous artifacts were discovered, including a rare desalination plant. The artifacts were sent to Tallahassee for conservation. The Master Plan for Fort Taylor calls for the return of the artifacts once a Visitor’s Center is funded and constructed. In 1973, the fortress was declared a National Historic Landmark and in 1976 the property was transferred the state of Florida and its park service. The park officially opened to the public in July 1985. It is the southernmost state park in the continental U.S. and remains one of the most visited state parks in the Florida Park Service.