Fort McClary

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Fort McClary in Kittery, Maine sits on the Atlantic coast overlooking the entrance to the Piscataqua River. Its location holds a commanding view and has been home to strategic defenses since 1689 when Sir William Pepperell had fortifications built on the site.

In 1720, the Massachusetts Bay Colony (then in possession of the territory which would become Maine) constructed a permanent fort with six canon to replace Sir William's more rudimentary defense works. The fort was called Fort William, and a naval officer was stationed there to collect a duty from ships passing through. These payments went toward upkeep of the fort.

During the Revolutionary War, Fort William was seized by patriots and occupied by the New Hampshire militia. In 1808 Massachusetts gave the land to the federal government, and yet another fort was built—this time named Fort McClary after Andrew McClary, a New Hampshire major in the Revolutionary War who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The fort was occupied during the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I, although no major action took place there during any of these conflicts.

Fort McClary was abandoned soon after the First World War. The state of Maine now owns the fort and allows it to remain something of a ruin (although the surviving structures were renovated in 1987). The location is known as Fort McClary State Park and a $2 donation allows visitors to explore at will.

The starkly empty structures that remain represent different periods of construction over the fort's nearly 300 year history. The most prominent building is the hexagonal blockhouse which dates from 1844. The remains of a rifleman's house from the same time period is nearby. A caponier and a granite powder magazine are from the Civil War era, as is a massive granite wall which was never completed. A brick powder magazine from 1808 is the oldest surviving structure. In addition, there are other walls, underground tunnels and foundations of buildings long gone.

The fort was placed on the National register of Historic Places in 1969.

Location
Kittery Point Road
Kittery, ME 03802

Discussion

Barbara Carlson Shearer Nov 13, 2011
Every year the road into the fort washed out until until Rueben Randall a mason built a road that wouldn't wash out as told to me by my grandmother, Edith Racheal Randall Carlson