Local News

July 27, 2008

Fort Ti sees gloomy financial picture

Historic site faces gloomy financial picture; artifacts may be sold

TICONDEROGA -- The financial situation at Fort Ticonderoga is so bleak it is considering closing or selling items from its collections to raise operating capital.

The money from selling paintings or artifacts could enable the non-profit organization to keep running, although state laws would normally bar the fort from using the money for anything but additional collection items.


The situation was created when the new Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center was built, fort Executive Director Nicholas Westbrook said.

He said the new building cost about $23 million, and the fort only had $22 million to pay the bills.

"We're looking at a variety of options to close the gap. Everything up to let's hold a big sale. No decisions have been made yet."

The Mars Education Center is a re-creation of the original design for the French barracks at Fort Ticonderoga and includes classrooms, exhibit space and an auditorium.

The fort is also having trouble meeting its payroll and paying other bills.


The new building is named for Deborah Clarke Mars, who is married to Mars Inc. candy company heir Forrest Mars Jr.

The couple had been among the fort's largest contributors, but a falling out between them and Westbrook resulted in their estrangement from the fort.

Mrs. Mars was president of the fort Board of Trustees for the last two years, and she and her husband often spent time in Ticonderoga, her hometown.

She has been replaced as president by Peter S. Paine Jr. of Willsboro, an attorney and banker.

Paine has put the full amount needed by the fort at about $2.5 million.


Earlier this year, Mr. Mars sent a letter to Westbrook and some members of the fort's Board of Trustees saying, "The ride is over."

The letter said Westbrook would not listen to new ideas and had stopped communicating with Mrs. Mars.

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