The town of Cape Elizabeth will continue to maintain and stabilize the ruins of the Goddard Mansion, a favorite feature of Fort Williams Park.

The Town Council voted unanimously Wednesday to continue spending about $5,000 a year to keep the remains of the 1850s mansion safe but accessible for public viewing, said Town Manager Michael McGovern.

The dramatic and somewhat spooky mansion is a popular but lesser known feature of the park, which is visited by nearly 1 million people annually and provides access to Portland Head Light, another town-owned property.

Overlooking Casco Bay, the 1850s block granite mansion was purchased by the federal government in 1900 to serve as quarters for noncommissioned officers. The town acquired the mansion when it bought the 90-acre fort and its various buildings in 1964.

The mansion deteriorated over the years, until the fire department burned the interior structure to remove dangerous debris, according to the Fort Williams Park Foundation website. It remained open to curious members of the public until 2009, when chain-link fencing was installed to keep people out but maintain the ruins for historical and architectural appreciation.

In a recent survey of town residents that was included in property tax bills, 410 of 793 respondents (52 percent) said the mansion should be maintained as it is; 223 (28 percent) said it should be sold or leased for another purpose, such as a restaurant or housing; 102 (13 percent) said it should be demolished; and 58 (7 percent) offered other suggestions.

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