Forts Ticonderoga & William Henry

During our summertime visit to the Lake George area of New York, we made time to get a few history lessons. We started with the epic Fort Ticonderoga, which played a part in many important events in the area’s history starting over three centuries ago.

We began our visit, however, not with the fort but with a beautiful garden. The first garden on the property was designed and planted by Sarah G.T. Pell in the early 20th century, when her family was using the pavilion on the grounds as their summer home. When the area was being reconstructed, Alfred Bossom added the big brick wall to enclose the gardens. In 1920 another landscaper, Marion Cruger Coffin, was brought in to design a new garden, and when the first modern restoration took place in the 1990s it was Coffin’s plans that were consulted.

The garden was opened to the public for the first time 2001 and is now known as the King’s Garden. We entered the garden through big, majestic gates and took a leisurely stroll through the flowers and trees. It was a very nice place to wander and luckily not crowded on the day of our visit.

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The fort itself played roles in the American Revolution and the French and Indian War. In 1820, the fort and all its grounds were purchased by William Ferris Pell, who was responsible for the restoration and preservation efforts. In the early 1900s Pell’s family continued his legacy, restoring the gardens and fort and creating the museum. In 1960 it was named one of the nation’s first National Historic Landmarks.

Touring the fort was pretty fun- it was like a step back in time. Costumed role players were stationed around to answer questions, and rooms were set up to look as though soldiers would be returning at any moment. Though many things were recreated rather than original, we still enjoyed learning and looking.

 

Our second fort of the trip came a few days later, with a short but sweet visit to Fort William Henry. This fort was built originally in 1755 by William Johnson and it gets its name from two British royal grandsons. However, the fort was destroyed by fire just two years after it was built, so once again most of what you explore here is a recreation.

At William Henry we were able to watch a cannon firing demonstration which was really cool and incredibly loud! We also spend some time in the stocks, which made for a silly photo op. It was very hot and sunny on this day so we sought shade and cooler temperatures inside the forts many little outcrops during our tour.

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