This property was the original site of Fort King, a major military post during the Second Seminole War. As the first interior fort in Florida, Fort King was a symbol of the United States government’s resolve to conquer an inhospitable land.
The Second Seminole War was commanded from these sacred grounds and, from 1827 through 1842, every regiment of the U.S. Army, at one point, stood inside the walls of Fort King. It was on these grounds, Osceola took his first major stand against the U.S. Army and one of the most significant leaders of the Seminole Tribe, Abiaka, got the name Sam Jones.
Soon after the war concluded, Fort King was turned over to the people of the newly established Marion County, becoming the county seat and first county courthouse.
Twenty-five years later, many of the same brave men who served at Fort King would become great leaders to both the Confederate and Union Armies.
Today, Fort King is a 40-acre National Historic Landmark owned jointly by the City of Ocala and Marion County. The adjacent memorial site is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution – Ocala Chapter and leased to the City of Ocala and Marion County for 99 years. The site is managed by the City of Ocala. Funding assistance and logistics support is provided by a 501(c)3 organization, Fort King Heritage Association.
The first phase of the project included construction of a replica of the second fort built at Fort King, known as “General Jesup’s 1837 Fort King.”
Shortly after Osceola’s attack on Fort King in December of 1835, during which Indian Agent Wiley Thompson and several others were killed, the original fort was burned to the ground by the Seminoles. A year later, Fort King rose from the ashes and this new fort served the military until the war ended in 1842.
The Fort King Visitor Center will serve as the hub for stewardship programs designed to educate the public on the importance of preserving the historical and environmental resources at Fort King. Visitors will also learn about Fort King’s legacy from both the Seminole and soldier perspectives.
The visitor center will include a museum that will house the vast collection of over 50,000 artifacts recovered from this site, including display pieces such as Andrew Jackson’s pin and a soldier’s bayonet scabbard buckle.
Two classrooms will provide space to serve student groups with displays and interpretive tools that are sure to engage. With the assistance of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Seminole people will also have the opportunity to share the role that Fort King played in their history.
The chickee, or house, is a rectangular structure with a peaked roof, covered with palmetto fans, which are tied individually to cypress poles that run along the roof. The style we are familiar with today was brought about by the need to assemble and dismantle a camp quickly during the Seminole Wars. This chickee proved to be effective at providing shelter from the Florida summer rains and winds, and to making relocation easier when necessary.
The large gathering chickee at Fort King will serve as an outdoor classroom in the meadow. Complementing the newly reconstructed fort, the chickee will blend into the natural environment. The chickee will represent the presence and contributions of the Seminole people to Florida.