In A Visit to Fort Ticonderoga, Part 1, I discussed the amazing views of the fort and its very important role in the defense of pre-colonial settlements and American Revolutionary strategy.
After soaking in the glorious sights and enjoying a musket drill, we entered the interior ring of the fort that once housed the soldiers, their families, and the stuff that made it all tick: ammunition.
The structures that stand here are not original to the colonial and Revolutionary days. After serving faithfully for about 30 years in which it had seen nearly half a dozen attacks and had passed through the hands of France, Britain, and the United States, the fort was abandoned after the American Revolution. Its stones and metal were stripped by local residents for the building of houses and businesses in the local small towns. A renewed interest of the Revolutionary War in the late 19th century brought curious onlookers to the site, but the old fort was merely a ghostly shadow of its former glory.
A wealthy importer from New York City, William Ferris Pell, purchased the land and constructed a summer home nearby, naming it The Pavilion. The elegant house still stands but is in terrible disrepair. The home was abandoned by William Ferris Pell after a tragic accident that killed his eldest son. The story is taken from the official Fort Ticonderoga website at www.fortticonderoga.org/story/people/ferris-pell:
It was customary for the cannon at The Pavilion to be fired in honor of Pell’s return to The Pavilion at the beginning of spring. In 1839, Pell’s eldest son, 35 year-old Archibald, was killed when the cannon exploded while he fired it to honor his father’s return to Ticonderoga. Pell was so devastated by his son’s death that he never returned to The Pavilion and, according to family legend, died from a broken heart the following year.
The gardens of the house are still beautifully maintained, but the house is in poor shape. The Fort Ticonderoga association hopes to restore the home in the future. We wandered the grounds; I’ll have more about the history of The Pavilion and our visit in another post.
The Pell family, seeing an influx of tourists thanks to the Erie Canal and railroads, decided to restore the old “Stonehenge Ruins of Ticonderoga” into a replica of the fort as it was during the American Revolution. Construction began in 1909. This was one of the first such historic restoration projects in the United States. Its grand opening was attended by President William Howard Taft on the 300th anniversary of the European discovery of Lake Champlain.
Some of the old stonework remains, although we did see some areas blocked off for repairs. I loved wandering the grounds, there were many nooks and crannies to explore.
Ethan Allen wannabees:
“Soldiers” posing for a photo.
After all this exploring, we had yet to venture inside the buildings! SO much to explore! We saw a DVD about the history of the fort, and wandered the halls for over an hour, peering at all the amazing historical artifacts and displays. I’ll have our story about that in the next post A Visit to Fort Ticonderoga, Part 3.