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December 21, 2015

Fort Ontario to Showcase Unique History in 2016 Exhibit

OSWEGO – Fort Ontario State Historic Site will open a new interactive main exhibit next year to interpret its role as one of the nation’s most historically significant military sites.

The exhibit’s centerpiece will be a section of the original fence that circled the post during World War II when it served as the only refugee shelter in the United States for victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

“Some of these refugees of war-torn Europe had escaped from Nazi concentration camps before making their way through enemy lines to Italy and Allied Forces internment camps,” said Fort Ontario Site Supervisor Paul Lear. “This experience made them terrified when they saw the chain link and barbed wire fence that surrounded Fort Ontario when they arrived. This feeling changed soon enough though as, during their first month of internment and quarantine at the fort, the fence became an emotional meeting place where they met with Oswegonians and interacted, exchanged information, and established enduring friendships. Residents passed clothing, food, shoes, candy, and even bicycles over or through the fence to those in need inside the shelter.”

Much of the Fort’s new display next year will utilize touch-screen technology, which allows for more details and artifacts to be included.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site will re-open in May 2016. For details, call 315-343-4711.

FORT ONTARIO PREPARES FOR NEW EXHIBIT – Heidi Miksch, a conservator from the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites Resource Center at Peebles Island, N.Y., worked with Brian Hibbert (center) and Historic Park Manager Ron Healt (right), both from the fort, to retrieve this piece of fencing and prepare it for treatment before it goes on display next year. (Photo by Kelly Jordal, Oswego County Tourism Office)

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