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“Bastions for old glory”

Historic Fort Wayne
Ranked #65 of 140 things to do in Detroit
Attraction details
Level Contributor
77 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Bastions for old glory”
Reviewed 3 June 2014 via mobile

As a history buff / film maker myself , the historic fort wayne is definitely a location to tour. Surrounded by a ton of history, this is as close to being in the boots of the 19th century soldiers in Detroit as you can get. Soldiers from the civil war all the way up to the Vietnam war were stationed or drafted in this very location. Guided tour's are inexpensive but priceless to learn about the history the guides hold and are very friendly.

The individual building's are in pretty rough shape and mostly inaccessible due to unsafe roofs and floors but the ones you can enter that aren't lock are few and far between unfortunately.

The security personal are, to a degree friendly and often will point you to the direction if you get lost or have basic questions. Visitors can walk freely on the grounds and take infinite pictures and might even see a appariton in one of them since this place is haunted.

Speak of, during yearly events, the paranormal group in charge of ghost hunts will have celebrity tv show casts come in and do a actual ghost hunt live with groups of people who are interested in the paranormal and will answer questions with meet and greets. But this luxury comes with a fairly steep price as expected but well worth the experience you'll never forget.

Overall the location has it's plus and minuses. The perks are the beautiful 19th early 20th century building's and the historic value. Ample parking is available and the entire locations perimeter is fenced in which makes you feel secure especially from the ride into the entrance.

The location hosts family friendly events but are few and far inbetween. The civil war reenactments are awesome and during this event they open up the usually locked sleeping quarter's of the infantry building giving you a broad view of this amazing historic vast building which is 3 floors tall. Soldiers inside this building during this civil war reenactment will freely talk to you and are well rehearsed.

Now, the other side of the coin, the negatives..

Coming in off the freeway or off fort street before arriving to the forts entrance is a scary one. Abandoned destroyed homes, leveled or on the brink of 20th century circa buildings are everywhere near the train tracks along with graffiti and copious amounts of trash and a overall feeling of after a war type landscape is what you'll definitely experience. Be sure to have your doors locked.

Pay CLOSE attention to your surroundings and other driver's who come out of the surrounding streets who rarely stop at the stop signs at break neck speeds. And by far pay attention to the stoplight approaching the forts entrance. Even on proceeding on a greenlight I have been nearly t boned by cars going right through this intersections red light as if it doesn't even exist. PAY ATTENTION. I cannot express that enough.

The historic ft waynes website is far far behind technology and is rarely updated. While looking for a calendar of events or a telephone number to call from the website, I fell short. The number given after scrolling through multiple pages on Google that I did find to contact the fort about events, never if rarely connects to a living person or any recorded info period.

This website severely needs updating. You have a better chance of stumbling upon a event in progress if you just so happen to visit on a random day vs finding any info on their website. The hour's the fort is open is very short to the public so plan to arrive mid morning after 10am is best if you wish to get a few hour's in to explore.

Overall the history, guided tour's, photogenic landscape and events are well worth the drive to the Historic Fort Wayne.

4 Thank shroom_of_doom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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46 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Warren, Michigan
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Discover this historical gem”
Reviewed 14 January 2014

It's really a shame so few Michigan residents know about this place, especially those interested in military history. A complete walled fortress right here in our own back yard. And as a former tour guide from back in the 1980's let me tell ya', this place is haunted. When you wander around and get that feeling you're being watched, you really are being watched. There is no other place even remotely like this in Michigan's lower peninsula, check it out...

Visited August 2013
2 Thank T0m3333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
River Rouge, Michigan, United States
Level Contributor
88 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Truly historic”
Reviewed 23 August 2013 via mobile

Loved it. Very cheap. Bring your own picnic basket. See the baddest fort that was once filled with 1000 cannons. Wa built during the Civil war times. They had a special day with reenactments. I'd advise going then. Look at my picture to see why. The awesome people (vets) who bravely fought for our country are there during these times I educate and tell stories and even allow you to don some if their gear. God bless our vets. Because freedom isn't free....

Visited September 2012
5 Thank Michael R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Love at Third Sight”
Reviewed 17 July 2013

I recommended a visit duration of only 2-3hrs, because you might not immediately fall in love with this place...I visited three times over the years before it clicked for me. I mean, I always found it cool, but somehow, after maybe the third time or so, I absolutely fell in love with the place. So much so that I am going to sign up to become one of the volunteers who maintain it, just so that I can be there whenever I want (which only costs $20...in other words you save money if you plan to come more than 4 times/yr because you no longer have to pay for parking).

The history to this place is much deeper and more fascinating than you were taught--forget what it says on that stupid historical plaque, that thing is out of date and does not mention any of the most important or most interesting aspects of the site's history (go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Wayne_(Detroit) to get a good overview).

It is not exactly true that "no battles ever took place here," because three major events in the War of 1812 occurred on this very site, including a bombardment of Canada, and later the invasion of British forces who captured Detroit. However, the fort as it stands today was not yet built at that time, hence the very unfortunate and misleading slogan "Never a shot fired in anger." The third event was the signing of the Treaty of Springwells by William Henry Harrison, Lewis Cass, and several important tribal leaders. This treaty has lain forgotten in the Library of Congress until just a couple years ago.

Yes, the "museum" aspect of this site currently no longer exists, (except for the Tuskegee Museum), but volunteers are working as hard as they can to open a new museum in the Visitor Center (hopefully in the next year or two), and the Great Lakes Indian Museum will be undergoing renovation in that time as well. So please be patient and understand that this important Detroit landmark is NOT closed, is NOT abandoned, and NOT without hope. It just takes time, and a lot of hard work, that you to can help with. Please also understand that 12yrs ago the fort WAS closed, and it was only due to volunteer effort that it was reopened...the poor condition of the fort back then compared to what it is now is like night and day. There is a full calendar of events (see historicfortwaynecoalition.com), and the fort is open for tours on weekends from May-October, from 10am-4pm.

Even if you are not a "tour person," I HIGHLY recommend taking the tour here. It is easy to get the impression that nothing interesting ever happened at Fort Wayne if you simply come and walk around on your own, but you're cheating yourself. There is so much more info that you get out of the tour, which only costs a measly $3. Yes, the place is in disrepair and located in an ugly neighborhood, but it is a diamond in the rough and it is safer than you think. And with the coming of the new bridge to Canada right next to the fort, the neighborhood will be getting spruced up very shortly! Yes, most of the buildings are off limits, but the landscape itself is very beautiful and the most interesting buildings are open. This place has a very enchanting spirit, but you may not recognize it at first glance. It does not reveal itself to you fully on the first visit...you have to be willing to find it. I have come across very few places like that.

Yes, we all know that the City of Detroit has no money to "fix the place up," and the government is incompetent. That's old news and no one can do anything about it. But it's exactly why you as a citizen should visit places like this--because your admission fee or donation goes to the preservation of our cultural sites that our elected officials are no longer able to maintain. This is a place where YOU CAN actually make a difference, instead of the usual shaking of the head and saying "what a shame," or "someone should do something about this." The responsibility is on we, the people. WE are those "someones," and if WE don't do something about it, no one will.

Please also understand that the security guards are NOT Fort Wayne staff (there are no Fort Wayne staff), they are not even city employees. Due to the budget constraints there is no administrative entity that operates Fort Wayne; the Parks & Rec. Dept. keeps the gates open and contracts the security guards, but that's it for right now--the rest is all done by volunteers. Trust me, I share other reviewers' frustrations in this, but it is going to get better over time.

Visited July 2013
5 Thank Marc B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Valparaiso, Indiana
Level Contributor
46 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Built to defend against a British invasion from Canada - Who Knew?”
Reviewed 10 July 2013


The history of why this fort was built is fascinating. It was funded in 1839 to guard against a war in Canada among British subjects that was feared to spill across the river into the US. During the civil war (1863-1868) the earthen embankments were upgraded to "modern" military standards which include underground canon and rifle positions and top mounted swivel canon positions (see photo).

The barracks within the tall walls of the fort are very impressive and are an outstanding example of Georgian architecture of revolutionary war period (see photo of 4-story white limestone building). Where in MI can you find buildings this old?

While it is true many of the buildings are in need of repair, enough restoration has been done on a few key buildings to provide a living example of what life would have been like in this fort during any one of the wartime periods that these facilities were in use.

Visited July 2013
3 Thank Loud3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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