SUNBURY - A scale model of Fort Augusta will be built on the front lawn of the Hunter House in Sunbury. The model, which will be 32 feet wide, will be one-sixth the size of the original fort, which was constructed in 1756.

"People will be able to walk around the model and to use an observation deck to look inside the walls of the fort," said Scott A. Heintzelman, president of the Northumberland County Historical Society.

The society has organized a fund drive to pay for the model, which will be built on the site of the 1756 fort. A minimum of $125,000 must be raised to complete the project, Heintzelman said.

A ground-breaking ceremony will be held at the Hunter House at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Zartman Construction Inc., of Northumberland, will begin construction immediately following the ceremony. Working from old plans and diagrams of the fort, Baer Wolfe Architects, of Sunbury, designed the model. The stockade walls of the 1756 structure were made from trees that grew in the vicinity of the fort.

The project is expected to be completed within 90 days, Heintzelman said.

In 1939, the federal Work Projects Administration erected a scale model of the fort, but the model was removed by the state in 1981 following years of neglect.

The 1939 model included reproductions of soldiers barracks and other buildings. "We have the original WPA buildings which were restored by the society and will be used again in the model," Heintzelman said.

Fort Augusta was the largest fort built by Pennsylvania's colonial government during the French and Indian War. The fortification was a key defense during that war and the American Revolution. Originally built to defend Pennsylvania settlers against the raids by French and Indians from the Ohio Valley, during the Revolution it protected settlers of the upper Susquehanna Valley against attacks by Indians allied with the British.

"The project will be the largest financial undertaking in the 85-year history of the historical society," Heintzelman said. "Replacing the 1939 model will play an important part in protecting the society's viability in the years to come."

The organization has adopted "Get Fort-ified" as a fund-raising slogan, and has begun selling T-shirts, sweatshirts and other fort-related memorabilia to raise money. The society will also accept financial contributions.

"We have received a matching grant from the Degenstein Foundation so that every dollar contributed will be matched," Heintzelman said.

The Hunter House, which houses the society's museum and meeting rooms, is located at 1150 N. Front St.