War of 1812 - Table of Contents

Old Fort Niagara
Youngstown, NY

Official Web Site ......... Visitor Information

TEXT Beneath Illustrations


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The "French Castle"

The "French Castle"

Detail from previous photo

The Log Cabin


Wooden shingled roof

Detail from previous photo

Wooden lintels ... Casement windows

 

Scarp Walls and Casemate Gallery (1872)

Scarp Walls and Casemate Gallery (1872)

Casemate Gallery (1872)

   

Scarp Walls and Casemate Gallery (1872)

Scarp Walls and Casemate Gallery (1872)

Hot shot furnace

Trade Room.

Barracks


Officer's apartment

Officer's apartment

Officer's apartment




The chapel on the second floor was the earliest permanent church in western New York.

The LaSalle Monument (1934)



The history of Old Fort Niagara spans more than 300 years. During the colonial wars in North America a fort at the mouth of the Niagara River was vital, for it controlled access to the Great Lakes and the westward route to the heartland of the continent.With the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, however, the strategic value of Fort Niagara diminished. It nonetheless remained an active military post well into the 20th century.

The three flags flown daily above the parade ground symbolize the nations which have held Fort Niagara. Each competed for the support of a fourth nation: the powerful Iroquois Confederacy.

This was Fort Niagara's last armed conflict, and it thereafter served as a peaceful border post. The garrison expanded beyond the walls following the Civil War.

Fort Niagara was a barracks and training station for Amierican soldiers throughout both World Wars.The last army units were withdrawn in 1963. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard represents the only military presence on the site.

Old Fort Niagara was restored between 1926 and 1934. It is operated today by the Old Fort Niagara Association. Inc., a not-for-profit organization, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks. Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The "French Castle"

The oldest building of the Fort and, indeed, in the eastern interior of North America. the "Castle" was originally the sole structure of Fort Niagara. To calm the suspicions of the hostile Iroquois, the French designed it to resemble a large trading house. The building was, in actuality, a strong citadel capable of resisting Indian attack.

The Castle has been restored to its 1727 appearance, at which time most garrison facilities were located within its walls. Following expansion of the Fort in 1755-57, the Castle was used as officers' quarters. Army families resided here as late as World War 1.

The building was designed by Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery, chief engineer of New France. His layout of the ground floor included storerooms, a powder magazine, bakery, guardhouse, and well. Living quarters and a chapel were on the second floor. Overhanging or "machicolated" dormers on the attic level provided defensive positions for muskets and light cannon and gave the structure its original French name -- the "machicolated house."

The term "Castle" is not believed to have been in general use until U.S. officers lived here in the 1830s.

One of the most important parts of the ground floor was the Trade Room. During the French regime, Fort Niagara was a trading post as well as a military fortification. Indians came here in great numbers to exchange furs for manufactured goods.

The Castle was repaired and restored between 1926 and 1933. The layout and details of the building today generally conform to its 1727 arrangement. Mid-18th century furnishings were reproduced in an effort to make the Castle appear substantially as it did during the French occupation.

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Photos and their arrangement 2004 Chuck LaChiusa
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