Monday, April 26, 2010

Newspaper clipping about Fort Sullivan, Eastport, Moose Island, Maine, probably from the late 1870s

Passing of a Fort

Eastport's Old Fort Sullivan to Be Divided Up Into Building Lots and Sold

Eastport, Me.  May 19 -- One of Eastport's oldest and most prominent landmarks narrowly escaped going up in smoke recently during a storm, and while a heavy wind was blowing.

Fire was discovered coming through the roof of the old-time building on Fort Sullivan, where several families live, and a large crowd soon collected, including members of the fire department, who rendered valuable aid in getting the fire under control and saving the building.  The damage was small, and the former Government building that was at one time occupied by the English soldiers is yet prominent on the high ground.

Fort Sullivan, on which the above building stands, was built by the United States Government in 1808, the result of the embargo act passed by Congress in 1807, and it is supposed that the old fort was named in honor of Gov. Sullivan.  It was during his administration that the Batterman act was passed, which gave settlers at that time, who had no title, a fair compensation for improvements or betterments.  The Government turned its attention to the fortifying of Eastport, or Moose Island, as it was called, in the spring of 1807, and in April of the following year instructions came from the Government for Col. Lemuel Trescott, then Collector of Customs at Machias, to build the proposed fort here.  It is known that he purchased for $180 three acres of land on Clark's hill and the earth works were soon begun, to be followed by the necessary buildings.  A crescent battery of stone mason work was completed which was laid in lime 11 feet thick, and sods six and one-half feet thick laid on top, making the platform for the cannon.  A block-house was built near of pine timber, two stories high and having walls 14 inches thick.

They also constructed a magazine 10 feet square, the walls two feet thick and the roof arched.  A company of United States Artillery arrived in Passamaquoddy Bay on the warship Wasp, and the garrison was first commended [commanded?] by Capt. Moses Swett, four 18-pounders being mounted.

During the War of 1812, the place was occupied and some time later a fleet of English men-of-war arrived in the harbor and soon took possession of Fort Sullivan, which they held up to the close of the troubles.  It is said that most of the buildings on the fort, of which the above-mentioned is one, were built by the British at that time, who improved the fortifications began by the American Government and many buried timbers are yet to be seen on the fort and near the building now standing.  American soldiers were stationed at Fort Sullivan at intervals up to 1875, when they were ordered away by the Government and since that time the houses have been occupied mostly by the poorer residents of the city.

Last year a careful survey of the fort property was made and it was divided into lots that will probably be sold at public auction at an early date, when the present buildings will be hauled away and the frontier fortifications of 100 years ago will disappear.


  1. The Border Historical Society in Eastport has a photo of Fort Sullivan that's captioned "survey of fort in 1900", so this article may be from 1901.

  2. Thanks for your comment - and your work with preserving old forts! The reference to breaking the grounds up into lots makes me think that the article is from the late 1870s or 1880s. This was spelled out (with maps) in a printed enclosure in the volume of the 48th Congress, First Session.

  3. Thanks to the interest of American Forts Network and others, I've scanned the pages of the 12 page booklet and stitched together images of the large folded map within.