The King's Garden and the Restoration of Fort Ticonderoga
Westport, NY - Events of Saturday, July 27, 2013
At the end of our last post we mentioned the King's Garden. The King's Garden is outside the fort and can be accessed by following a walking trail from the front of the fort less than a quarter mile to the garden or by pulling off the main entry drive to the fort at the separate parking area for the garden.
Back in the mid-1700s, Fort Ticonderoga was in the wilderness, and there were no local farms from which to get food. Therefore, the garrison at the fort had to grow their own food. Early maps of the fort refer to the garrison garden as the King's Garden. The greenhouse in the photo below is obviously from a later period. We'll have more on that shortly.
We also ended the last post with Fort Ticonderoga being abandoned by the British following the American War for Independence. With our independence won and the war over, the young U.S. Government had no use for the fort, so it turned the fort and the surrounding land over to the State of New York.
In 1803, the state donated the fort and
land to Columbia and Union Colleges. The colleges subsequently sold the
fort and 546 acres to William Pell in 1820. Pell built a summer home adjacent to the ruins of the fort, and he planted a pleasure garden near the home. Today, there is a Discovery Garden.
When William Pell's first summer home burned in 1825, he built another the following year called the Pavilion. After the tragic death of Pell's eldest son at the Pavilion in 1839, Pell never returned. In fact, the elder Pell also died a short time after his son, some say of a broken heart.
The coming of the railroad in the mid-1800s brought with it tourists wanting to see the ruins of the fort. Therefore, the Pell family turned the Pavilion into a hotel.
Pell, grandson of William Pell, was an amateur historian. Around 1909, he took an
interest in restoring Fort Ticonderoga, and enlisted the help of his wealthy father-in-law who pledged $500,000 - a LOT of money back then.
While Stephen Pell undertook restoration of the fort, his wife, Sarah, oversaw restoration of the Pavilion and the pleasure garden. Sarah Pell had the greenhouse in the photos above built to supply flowers for her garden. In 1920, Sarah hired one of the first female landscape architects, Marian Cruger Coffin, to design a formal, walled garden adjacent to the Pavilion. She called new garden, which was designed in the Italian Renaissance style, the Kings Garden in honor of the original garrison garden.
Another view of the King's Garden
By the late 1980s, the Pell family was no longer using the Pavilion. The house and garden were neglected because more pressing issues were being addressed at the fort. Finally, in 1997, the Fort Ticonderoga Association, which was established in 1931 by Stephen and Sarah Pell to care for the fort and which still owns and operates the fort today, began restoring the garden using Marian Coffin's original plan. The gardens were opened to the public in 2001.
Restoration of the Pavilion was supposedly started in 2009. Although it doesn't look too bad from a distance, you can tell it still has a long way to go when you see it from a closer perspective.
By the time we left Fort Ticonderoga, it was mid afternoon, and we were hungry. We thought that might be the case, so Margery researched restaurants in the area of the fort ahead of time, and she found Burleigh's Luncheonette in downtown Ticonderoga. On the way, we passed Centennial Falls, which is one of the many falls and rapids on the Le Chute River. The river drops 230 feet on its 3½-mile course connecting Lake George to Lake Champlain. The location of the fort was originally selected to protect the portage route around the Le Chute River falls and rapids.
When we got to downtown, the main street in front of the restaurant was closed for their Saturday farmer's market. We lucked out and found a parking spot on the side street right next to the restaurant.
The restaurant is a typical, old-fashioned luncheonette with plenty of counter seating and a short-order cook working the flat-top grill and deep fryers right behind the counter.
Margery had a burger ($3.50) with onion rings ($3), and Paul had a cheeseburger ($4) with sweet potato fries ($2.50).
The food was very good and the prices were reasonable. The burgers were at least 1/3 pound of freshly ground meat, and they were fairly juicy. The sides were good, too.
With our bellies full, we headed back to the motor home to do some of our pre-departure chores in the afternoon and to relax in the evening. We headed out to our next destination on Sunday morning. We'll tell you where that was in our next post.