Fort McCoy News September 25, 2015

Renovated History Center reopens

Public Affairs Staff

The Fort McCoy History Center reopened Sept. 11 after several months of work to renovate the interior and exterior of the facility.

Interior renovations provided for expanded exhibit floor space, improved lighting, and installation of energy efficient heating and air-conditioning systems.

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Visitors look at the displays in the Fort McCoy History Center Sept. 11 during the grand reopening of the center, which was closed for renovations to increase space and improve facility infrastructure.

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Visitors view displays in the Fort McCoy History Center Sept. 11.

Exterior improvements included new steps and a ramp to improve access for visitors.

During its reopening, visitors experienced the results of these improvements firsthand, especially the increased floor space, which has allowed for the display of more of the installation historical collection. The History Center features exhibits as well as displays of artifacts, photographs and memorabilia that tell the story of Fort McCoy since its founding in 1909. The center first was opened in 1999 in building 902 when the Fort McCoy observed its 90th anniversary, Fort McCoy Public Affairs Officer Linda Fournier said, and never has had any type of significant facility upgrades.

Judy Stanton of Freeport, Ill., visited the History Center during the reopening and was impressed with all she saw.

"It is so very interesting to see the history," Stanton said. "All the artifacts provide an incredible look back at what Fort McCoy has had here for so many years. It's just amazing."

Visiting the center with Stanton was Diane Sorn, also from Freeport, who said the center's presentation provides a very human perspective.

"All you have to do is look at all of the photos and see the faces of the men and women who served here," Sorn said. "So many young faces and so much history. I think it's overwhelming."

Whether it's Maj. Gen. Robert B. McCoy's World War I gas mask, horseshoes from the early camp stables, World War II-era uniforms, or items from the 1980 Cuban Refugee Resettlement mission, the History Center offers exhibits spanning from Fort McCoy's earliest beginnings to the installation's involvement in the war on terrorism.

"The mission of the History Center is to preserve our past while we train for the future. It is truly remarkable to reflect on Fort McCoy's history; how we were founded; how the installation evolved; and its role in supporting a variety of training, mobilization, and other unique missions throughout the 20th and 21st centuries," Fournier said.

"It is overwhelming to reflect on the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have passed through our gates in the past 106 years and have left their mark on the installation," Fournier said. "We often have veterans who visit the History Center and share a personal story about their time here. They are indeed grateful this part of their history and ours is being preserved," Fournier said.

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Fort McCoy Public Affairs Officer Linda Fournier talks with a visitor at the Fort McCoy History Center Sept. 11 during the grand reopening of the center.

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The Fort McCoy History Center features numerous displays depicting installation history.

Mark Levandowski of Menomonee Falls, Wis., made a special trip to Fort McCoy for the center's reopening. He had visited the installation during the Armed Forces Day Open House in May and wanted to return to see what the center had to offer. He was glad he returned.

"It was just amazing to see," Levandowski said. "When you get to see even the smallest things, like ration stickers from World War II or the old uniforms and other artifacts, it's all so incredible."

The History Center is open year-round to groups by appointment. For more information about the History Center and the Commemorative Area, contact the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office at 608-388-2407 or by email at

Fort McCoy Commemorative Area marks 20 years of preserving post's past.