TICONDEROGA — The leader of Fort Ticonderoga says the world-renowned historic landmark just had one of its best-ever seasons for financial growth and visitation.
Now the historic stone fortress is preparing for its 2013 season opening at 9:30 a.m. Friday, May 17.
Fort Ticonderoga CEO Beth Hill said paid attendance last season increased almost 6 percent, and admissions revenue was up 18 percent over 2011.
The nonprofit educational organization also saw increases in program revenue last year by 38 percent, and field-trip visits were up 8 percent. Donations have also risen, Hill said, including a 38 percent growth in Friends of Fort Ticonderoga memberships and 18 percent growth in annual giving.
“The turnaround has happened, and now we’re growing,” she said. “Fort Ticonderoga has been able to redefine what is possible and generate increased income and support to fulfill its mission.”
The fort needed to get on a different track if it was to survive, Hill said.
“This site is so significant, and we have to have a sustainable business model for our future. The baton has been passed to us.”
It was a remarkable year for the fort, Hill said.
“We have to make sure this is in place for future generations. We’re the connector between the past and the future. So far we have seen tremendous progress. The organization is thriving. It’s just a beginning.”
The fort had fallen on harsh economic times in the mid-2000s, at one point laying off staff and considering the sale of some of its collection to raise operating capital.
Hill was hired as Fort Ticonderoga’s executive director in 2010 with a mission to improve the situation.
She was recently named president and CEO by the organization’s Board of Trustees, superseding her previous title of executive director.
One thing that’s new this year is the Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute, a program on Benedict Arnold and the fort’s history that will include three college credits. The fort is holding it Sunday, July 7, through Friday, July 12, in conjunction with the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vt.