Next to the restored Fort Ticonderoga is a curious dirt path leading to a little dell. The place is called “King’s Garden.” Even though the day was very hot and we were tired from our long trek through the Fort’s many museums, we decided to take a look at this garden. A staid rock entrance gate pops up from the middle of the green.
The gate leads to another gate, this time it’s a portal through a brick wall. A long time ago, gardens were often walled to denote boundaries and to protect the plants and other things inside from intruders. This wall reminded my husband of the many walled gardens he saw when he lived in Tehran, Iran.
The flowers inside the garden shimmered in the intense summer sunshine.
A cool alcove against one portion of the wall was a welcome respite from the heat. It is also so beautifully done– I loved it!
The garden is immense and is kept up wonderfully.
As we followed the path and drew nearer to the house at the other end, I realized that the house is in great disrepair and is closed to the public. This is the old Pell home, named The Pavilion. It reminds me of a southern plantation house, not something usually seen in rugged Adirondack country.
I did a little research into the Pell family and their quest to restore the ruined fort to its original splendor. You can read my findings on my post A Visit to Fort Ticonderoga Part 2.
Apparently, the Fort Ticonderoga association wants to restore the home and eventually open it to the public. How wonderful! I hope they are able to do so.
We freely walked the grounds, going around to the front of the house. The place oozes history.
According to the plaques and an historical marker nearby, Samuel de Champlain and his Canadian Indian friends battled the Iroquois tribe that had settled here, in 1609.
I peeked inside the windows. Looks like the house is currently used to store extra supplies for the fort. Oh how I would love to meander the rooms! The house does resemble a southern house, with the floor-to-ceiling windows, large shutters and open, airy rooms. I wonder how difficult it was to keep the house warm in the winter.
Further beyond the house is a marvelous view of Lake Champlain. The green hills of Vermont lie beyond.
The house and grounds are so lovely. I love this style of architecture.
The history of the fallen home reflects the history of her builders.
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.
Later family members held on to the land and decided to restore the ruins of the old fort behind the house. 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.
This melancholic plaque hangs above the exit gate on the brick wall leading back to Fort Ticonderoga. It was installed by the woman who built the gardens.
The words are difficult for me to construe. My husband and I worked at it until we think we perceived the words:
“Marvel that the great(?) men
Of the earth prefer to reap
The iron harvest of war
To the rich gifts of Ceres.
It is a telling testament of human nature. Despite the peaceful delights of the garden, men seem to prefer the “iron harvest” of war. Very sobering in such a sober garden and home.