October 10, 2013

Fort Ti ponders Pavilion renewal


TICONDEROGA — Fort Ticonderoga officials are seeking preservation and restoration opportunities for The Pavilion, the historic Pell family summer home and one-time hotel on the grounds.

Using a $10,000 National Trust grant, the fort has historic-preservation architect John G. Waite going over the structure of The Pavilion with the goal of issuing a report containing recommendations for its renewed use.

“The walls of The Pavilion are telling us its story, and we have the rare moment in time to witness it,” fort Chief Executive Officer Beth Hill said. 

“The next chapter is determining the repurposing of the structure. It’s one of the oldest summer homes and the oldest hotel in the Lake George region.”


Hill said they’re looking at the preservation and restoration opportunities the fort has as it plans the future use of the structure.

“The research is unfolding before us, and it will inform the future adaptive reuse of a very important historic structure.”

Fort Ticonderoga recently commissioned Waite to produce a document called “Historic Structures Report and Interior Study on The Pavilion.”

The report findings will help Fort Ticonderoga’s new Comprehensive Plan, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year, Hill said. 

The Comprehensive Plan is being done by PGAV, a global destination planning firm from Kansas City, Mo.


The Pavilion was built as a summer home in 1826 by William Ferris Pell. He and his family occupied it in the 1830s, but by the early 1840s, the house had begun to be used as a hotel, its primary function through 1900.

“As a hotel, the house welcomed travelers passing through Ticonderoga while traveling by steamboat on Lake George and Lake Champlain,” Hill said.

She said the hotel accommodated such guests as Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln; prominent French and Indian War historian Francis Parkman; and Adirondack photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard.

President William Howard Taft was at The Pavilion in 1909 for the 300th anniversary celebration of the discovery of Lake Champlain. While there, he toured the fort’s ruins.

When William Ferris Pell’s great-grandson, Stephen H.P. Pell, and his wife, Sarah G.T. Pell, began the restoration of Fort Ticonderoga in 1909, they simultaneously undertook the restoration of The Pavilion and used the house as a summer residence into the late 1940s. 

After Stephen’s death in 1950, his son, John, occupied the house through 1987.


It has seen little use since, however.

“As one of the earliest summer homes and hotels in the region, The Pavilion is considered one of the most important historic structures in the Adirondacks,” Hill explained.

She said it is a critical link spanning almost two centuries of Fort Ticonderoga’s history.

“It encompasses the stories of landmark preservation, the birth of American tourism and monumental restoration.”

Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French in 1755 as Fort Carillon. It moved through French, British and colonial hands over the next 25 years, falling into disrepair and abandonment after the American Revolution.

Open to the public since 1909, the fort has more than 70,000 visitors annually and is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of its history.

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