Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

September 8, 2023

Contractors to begin repair work on Fort Preble after storms and erosion affect safety

aerial of campus with buildings and water Courtesy / Southern Maine Community College Work will begin to repair damage and instability at Fort Preble, built during the War of 1812 and now part of Southern Maine Community College. The fort and breakwater are seen at upper right.

Work will begin to repair damage and instability at a centuries-old military fort in South Portland — which happens to be home to Southern Maine Community College.

"Our South Portland campus is a gift," SMCC Interim President Tiffanie Bentley said. "As a community, SMCC takes our stewardship of this treasured landmark very seriously.”

Fort Preble, one of Maine's historic installations, was built in the early 1800s to defend Portland Harbor during the War of 1812. The fort was named after Portland native Commodore Edward Preble, a naval hero who served during the Barbary Wars. Over the years, the United States used Fort Preble for a variety of military purposes, including as a training facility for soldiers during World War II. 

The fort was deactivated in 1950. In 1952, the state of Maine took ownership and converted the site into a facility for the Maine Vocational Technical Institute, which ultimately became Southern Maine Community College.

As well as being a college campus and a tourist attraction, the fort is a breakwater for Portland Harbor. A breakwater is a structure built along a shoreline to protect boats and ships from the force of waves and currents. It is typically made of large rocks or concrete blocks and is designed to absorb the impact of the waves and redirect their energy away from the harbor or marina.

Additional breakwater construction began in 1837 after a severe storm destroyed wharves and houses along the Portland-South Portland shoreline. But more recently, powerful storms and years of erosion have caused damage and instability at the site.

Following a survey of the area, the college worked with Tec Associates in South Portland to develop plans to stabilize the fort. Great Falls Construction in Gorham was selected to do the work. 

The project includes fencing in areas most at risk, adding erosion control measures, including sub-drainage, removing unstable granite blocks, cataloging locations from which the blocks are removed and storing the granite blocks safely on the site so they can be reassembled at a future time when funding allows.

The stabilization project is expected to be completed by late November.

“We will do everything within our means to keep [the fort] from further degradation so that it remains a source of inspiration and education for students and visitors for years to come,” said Bentley.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF