June 24, 2013

Crown Point, Chimney Point tours focus on preservation


---- — CROWN POINT — With the nearby Champlain Bridge landscape restoration project nearly finished, Chimney Point State Historic Site in Vermont and Crown Point State Historic Site in New York will host a unique bi-state afternoon of learning about preservation and restoration.

The event runs 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 30.

In the 1730s, the French military built forts on both sides of the lake, claiming the region for New France.

A quarter-century later, when the British Army arrived, it added a large fort complex at Crown Point and defensive earthen works at Chimney Point in Addison, Vt.


The June 30 event requires participants to follow the tour leaders on foot or bicycle.

The progression begins at the Chimney Point tavern at 1 p.m. Guests should purchase tour tickets ($8 for one person; $15 for two) upon arrival at the entrance to the Chimney Point museum.

The oldest standing structure at Chimney Point State Historic Site is the late-1700s tavern section of the main building.

The second stop is outdoors, where Chimney Point landscape preservation will be explained. In 1966, Vermont bought the property to protect it from private development.

The next topic will be the commemorative trail, newly installed to interpret the previous Lake Champlain Bridge (1929 to 2009) using kiosks, wayside signs, indoor displays and a salvaged original piece of the steel bridge substructure.


After the members of the tour have crossed the Lake Champlain Bridge, which opened in 2011, the tour continues at 2 p.m. at the steamboat pier (completed in the 1930s) and Champlain Memorial lighthouse (completed in 1912), both of which were the focus of exterior restoration efforts in 2008 and 2009.

The Champlain Memorial features four bronze figures in sculpture, including Hebert’s Samuel de Champlain and “La France” by Auguste Rodin.

The lighthouse and pier are part of the Crown Point Reservation Campground, operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Next, the tour arrives at the former toll collector’s house, now the Lake Champlain Visitors’ Center, which contains an exhibit and several brief videos commemorating the original Lake Champlain Bridge. Admission is free.


At 2:45, the tour arrives at the authentic remains of Fort St. Frédéric (1734-59).

The limestone walls here, dating back to 1734, require considerable preservation attention year-round. For the past 37 years, the ancient masonry walls on the grounds of Crown Point State Historic Site have been getting expert attention from specialist Darrell LaFrance, who will demonstrate his masonry skills — rain or shine — on the 279-year-old walls of the French-built fort. He will be assisted, as he has been since 2001, by mason tender Robert Lacey.

The limestone ruins of both the French-built fort and the two-story barracks of the British fort are registered National Historic Landmarks.

Next, guests will be shown evidence of landscape and view-shed preservation at the British “Crown Point” fort and the surrounding acreage. These garrison grounds were donated to New York state for preservation in 1910.

The tour concludes with a 3:30 p.m. visit to see award-winning renovation work completed recently on the former farmyard barns located just outside the vast British fort ruins.