Portcullis & Grenada

In October of 1983, Armed Forces of the United States landed on the Caribbean Island of Grenada, with the intention of securing the safety of American citizens who were attending the St. George’s University Medical School. After US and Caribbean troops departed, an attempt was made by the United States and other donor nations to help Grenada return to a market economy so that the people could earn, rather than spend their way into the next decade.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas
With a total population of fewer than 98,000 and a minuscule tax base, Grenada is also the smallest sovereign nation in the western hemisphere.

As part of that effort, the president of Portcullis Limited was provided with a grant by USAID (US Agency for International Development) to travel to Grenada to investigate the potential for tourism-related economic development. That first trip, and others at our own expense, eventually resulted in our proposal to rehabilitate and develop Grenada’s Fort George (built by the French as Fort Royal between 1705 and 1710). We believed that if we imitated similar and self-sustaining fortifications in North America, such as Old Fort Niagara and Fort Ticonderoga, in New York and Fort Ligonier in Pennsylvania, Grenada’s own fort could earn sufficient revenue from an already existing visitor population to become self-supporting as well.

In response to our proposal and based on a rapid increase in foreign visitors, the government of Grenada decided that the value of Fort George as a visitor venue far outweighed its use as rent-free space for government offices. The Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Keith C. Mitchell, then gave us permission to move forward in our effort to rehabilitate the old fort under the Bilateral Investment Treaty between the United States and Grenada and to prepare the structure for your visit.

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For their part, and unable to fund the project on their own, the Government of Grenada approached a number of multi-national institutions with the Portcullis-Grenada economic development proposal asking them to provide grant funding for the total amount required to conserve the historic fortress. The Government of Grenada indicated a preference for grant funding so that any surplus earned by the project could remain in Grenada to support other local historic sites which could not otherwise sustain themselves.

There is still a lot of work to prepare Grenada’s Vauban-style fort to receive large numbers of paying visitors, but all of you with an interest in historic preservation should be surprised and pleased that the original fortress structure exists at all. You might also be amazed that the fort is in such good condition, considering its age. This is the result of what we call "preservation through poverty", as Grenada, like other poor nations of the Caribbean and the third world, has been forced to continue using their old fort as government offices and storage, not because the structure was efficient or comfortable space, but because they could ill-afford new buildings. The fort has thus been continuously occupied for over 290 years.