Naval Hospital Beaufort Offers Tours of 300-Year-Old Fort on Hospital Grounds
Beaufort, SC – Naval Hospital Beaufort is offering tours of their historic compound and Fort Frederick to the general public the third Saturday of every month at 10:00 a.m. Capt. Joan Queen, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Beaufort, implemented the tours to allow the general public access to the fort, which stands within the naval hospital compound.
“I am honored that a piece of South Carolina history is located on the grounds of Naval Hospital Beaufort,” said Queen. “We are committed to making Fort Frederick accessible to all who wish to visit the property.”
Fort Frederick, which was listed in the National Register in 1974, was originally built by English settlers in 1735 to defend the entrance to Port Royal Sound against repeated attacks by Native Americans and the potential threat offered by Spaniards to the south. The structure itself was small, with a footprint of just 125 feet by 75 feet, and walls that topped out at five feet. The fort was, however, one of the largest tabby forts ever constructed (tabby is a mixture of sand, lime, and seashells). Personnel at the fort varied from two militiamen to 100 British regulars, according to the perceived threat at that time. By 1758, Fort Frederick was abandoned in favor of the stronger Fort Lyttleton further up river.
Today, the only visible remains of Fort Frederick are its walls, which have deteriorated over time, but are still in sturdy condition. Hospital staff have volunteered to periodically clean up the grounds around the fort, clearing away overgrowth. They’ve also brought in new signs to help educate visitors on the historic significance of the fort and other sites on the hospital compound such as Civil War era Camp Saxton.
The guided tours will further educate visitors on the history of Fort Frederick and key points of interest around the hospital grounds. Hospital Corpsman Chief Amanda Hughes is not only the tour guide, she’s also the command historian. Hughes has spent countless hours researching the history of the naval hospital and the site on which it was built, making her the resident expert and the perfect person to lead the tours.
“I think it’s important for us to share the great history of Naval Hospital Beaufort’s compound,” said Hughes. “We have sites that span from early Native American, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Antebellum, and Civil War eras, and we shouldn’t keep them to ourselves. Giving these tours every month is a way for us to do that and to give back to the local community,” Hughes added.
The next tour will be Aug. 20, and begins promptly at 10:00 a.m. Those attending should meet at the hospital’s front gate, and transportation is provided around the hospital compound and to the fort. Anyone interested in touring Fort Frederick should call the hospital Public Affairs Officer, Regena Kowitz, at 228-5306 to sign up.
Open since 1949, Naval Hospital Beaufort provides general medical, surgical, and emergency services to all active duty personnel, as well as retired military and family members residing in the Beaufort area, a total population of approximately 35,000 beneficiaries.