FAQs Historic Fort Snelling Officers' Quarters Ceiling Collapse

For immediate release

Release dated: 
July 19, 2007
Media contacts: 

Kathryn Grimes
Marketing and Communications

FAQs Historic Fort Snelling Officers' Quarters Ceiling Collapse

Was anyone hurt?

No. The room was unoccupied at the time of the ceiling collapse.

What would have happened if anyone had been the room when the ceiling collapsed?

While we cannot speculate, it’s clear there was the possibility of injury.

What is the room used for?

Meetings, special events and classes.

What is the Minnesota Historical Society doing to assess risk and address safety concerns?

Upon learning of the collapse, we immediately retained an engineering firm to evaluate the historic fort’s buildings. Based on that assessment, three buildings were closed – the Officers’ Quarters where the collapse occurred and the Long Barracks and Hospital, which have similar ceiling construction. All of the buildings currently open to the public have been evaluated and are safe.

What type of ceiling is it?

The ceiling is constructed of plaster on metal lath.

What caused the ceiling to fall?

The connection of the nails to the wood failed.

What buildings are closed, and for how long?

The vast majority of buildings at the historic fort are open, including the visitor’s center, Round Tower, Half Moon Battery, Stone Barracks, Schoolhouse, Commandant’s House, Sutler’s Store, and quarters occupied by Dred Scott from 1836-1839. Those temporarily closed are the Officers’ Quarters where the collapse occurred, the Long Barracks, and the Hospital. Activities and programs ordinarily scheduled in these spaces have been relocated to other spaces within the fort. Repairs are already underway the affected buildings are likely to reopen to the public before the end of summer.

What is the nature of the repairs?

Smooth nails originally used to attach the plaster lath to the wood trusses will be replaced with a stronger alternative.

Is there structural damage to the building?

No. The portion that fell was a ceiling. The basic structure of the buildings, including the roofs and walls, are sound.

Were there any historical artifacts damaged by the collapse?

No. There were none kept in this room. We have removed all historical artifacts from the buildings currently undergoing repair.

What is the cost of the damage?

We are unable to provide an exact figure at this time. However, we believe the repairs will cost less than $100,000.