Established in 1855 as a military post to control the Mescalero Apache Indians, Fort Stanton is one of the most intact 19th-century military forts in all of America today. It is certainly one of the most impressive historic settings of any site in the Southwest, situated on 240 acres and surrounded by 25,000 acres of undeveloped BLM land, in south-central New Mexico. Although the use of many military forts established during Western expansion diminished by the turn of the century, Fort Stanton continued delivering important services to New Mexicans and the nation well into the 20th century.
Among its 88 buildings, some date back to its origin. Built of local stone, they are decidedly sturdy, but in great need of preservation and development. For years, the only preserved and renovated building was used as the Fort Stanton museum and administrative ofﬁce. But lately, and bit by bit, site managers have carved out improvements in other buildings to tell stories of its history as a Merchant Marine tuberculosis hospital and a World War II internment camp. Other buildings stand mute, too rundown to speak to visitors of their past. With the Campaign for New Mexico History, Fort Stanton Historic Site will:
Building 13 was originally designed as housing for junior ofﬁcers and their families. Among the many notable military residents who called the building home was a young John J. Pershing, who would later rise to command the U.S. Expeditionary Force in France during the First World War. Restoration of this building would focus on creating spaces representative of two distinct periods at Fort Stanton: the late 1880s, when John Pershing was stationed at the post; and the ﬁrst decade of the 20th century, when the building was renovated into housing for the medical staff of the Fort Stanton Tuberculosis Hospital.
Between 1940 and 1945, more than 400 German citizens and 17 Japanese Americans were detained at the Fort Stanton Internment Camp. The ruins of the site, located adjacent to Fort Stanton and across the Bonito River, are largely intact. This project would aim to physically connect visitors to the area and also include interpretive signage to orient and immerse them in the historic landscape.
Following the successful replacement of its roof, the historic Nurses’ Quarters at Fort Stanton is ready for a complete interior renovation. Current plans are to restore the interior as closely as possible to the original layout with the goal of creating short-term overnight rental space for groups interested in staying at Fort Stanton.