Originally established in 1839 and known today as a popular tourist destination, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) will soon offer exciting new enhancements to delight Fort guests from near and far — including the iconic Patty Reed doll that is going back on public display beginning November 15, 2012.
A series of recently completed enhancements are designed to enrich the visitor experience and assist in the interpretation and educational efforts of the Fort. In addition to a newly reconstructed ticketing kiosk that guests will experience when they first arrive, a few of the key recent developments include the following:
“One Fort, Many Views” Orientation Gallery & Exhibit – Opens November 15
In an effort to introduce the many different facets of Sutter’s Fort and to properly showcase the Patty Reed doll going back on permanent public display after a 15-month hiatus, the “One Fort, Many Views” Orientation Gallery and permanent exhibit will officially open to the public on Thursday, November 15. The installation of the Orientation Gallery, theater and permanent exhibit will set the stage for Fort visitors to begin to understand the complexity of the Fort’s role in California history that extends far beyond that of John Sutter and his ill-fated dreams. In fact, one of the goals of the Orientation Gallery and exhibit is to highlight how the Fort was a central gathering place for many diverse cultures including Native Americans and Hawaiian emigrants. In addition to an introductory film and the crowd-favorite Patty Reed doll, the Orientation Gallery and exhibit will also showcase life-sized character sketches representing diverse cultures, and a 5-foot plow made from a tree branch that was excavated at the Fort in the 1930s or 1940s. And soon after the official opening, the Gallery and exhibit will also offer interactive “cabinet discovery drawers” filled with interesting artifacts and objects.
New Raised Cannon Platforms – On Current Display
As visitors venture deeper into Sutter’s Fort, they will undoubtedly notice the two new towering raised cannon platforms located on either side of the South gate, which once served as the original main Fort entrance. Twelve-foot in height, the raised cannon platforms and genuine (refurbished) cannons serve to remind Fort visitors how California’s earliest residents had to prepare to defend themselves and their establishment from perceived threats.
Updated and Re-Merchandised Museum Store – Now Open
After visiting Sutter’s Fort, many guests will also enjoy perusing the recently renovated Museum Store in search of a special gift or treasure to remind them of their visit. With all new shelves, fixtures and an emphasis on period-appropriate finishes, the popular Museum Store now offers an intriguing mix of new and tried-and-true historically-appropriate merchandise such as historic writing instruments, beautiful traditional home décor items and souvenirs including the best-selling replica of Patty Reed’s doll.
These exciting developments at Sutter’s Fort SHP are just part of a continuing process to interpret history for Fort visitors and were made possible by Proposition 84 funding, California State Parks, Friends of Sutter’s Fort (FOSF), the non-profit Sacramento Trust for Historic Preservation (that funded the orientation video) and dedicated volunteers.