Fort Adams is the largest and most complete 19th century coastal fortification in the United States, with a perimeter nearly one mile long. Constructed between 1824 and 1857, the 125-acre installation illustrates American military engineering and technology. When the State of Rhode Island acquired the Fort from the Federal government in 1965, it had suffered from decades of deferred maintenance and vandalism, and was closed for a decade because of dangerous conditions. In 1995, the private Fort Adams Trust began conducting tours and developed a Strategic Master Plan, which proposed to restore key features and partner with private developers to reuse the remainder of the Fort. However, consultation with a variety of developers over ten years concluded that the cost of intensive renovations outweighed potential income.
In 2009, despite significant progress, more than 80% of the Fort remained untouched and sections had collapsed. The Fort Adams Trust engaged an interdisciplinary team led by Ann Beha Architects to create a Master Plan to support a new vision integrating preservation of the physical structures with new ideas about interpretation and marketing to expand the base of support for the Fort through increased visitation. The core initiative, to “Open the Fort” by providing free public access to the Parade Ground and the Outerworks, was completed in 2012 with funding from the State of Rhode Island.