Friday, September 19, 2014

Fort McClary, Kittery, Maine

Kittery Point is on the southern coast of Maine, and has been an important military defense spot since 1689.  William Pepperrell build an earth work and small blockhouse first known as Fort Pepperrell.   In 1715 six cannons were placed here to defend the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Later, on New Castle Island Fort William was built. 

Fort McClary is a wooden blockhouse built in 1844 on the southern coast Kittery Point.  This was a strategic approach to the U.S. naval shipyard in Portsmouth harbor.   This site was named for Major Andrew McClary, who was the highest ranking officer killed at the Battle of Bunker hill, and a New Hampshire native.  The fort began in 1808, and was important during the War of 1812 and during the Civil War. 

In 1924 the federal government sold the land to the State of Maine to be used as a state park.  During World War II parts of the fort were used for civilian defense, to match the concrete bunkers across the river at Odiorne Point in New Hampshire.  Fort McClary was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1969, and the blockhouse was renovated in 1987 and now is a museum.   You can look across the mouth of the Piscataqua River to Rye,New Hampshire, Whaleback Lighthouse and the Isles of Shoals.

The fort is a hexagonal blockhouse build on a first floor of cut granite blocks.  The second and third floors are logs, and were used as Officer’s quarters and now serve as exhibit space. There is a brick Rifleman’s house, powderhouse, parade grounds and large earthworks.  This park is open summers only, fee charged.

Antique postcard of Fort McClary's blockhouse

Useful information:

Fort McClary State Historic Site
and also

Friends of Fort McClary
PO Box 82
Kittery Point, Maine  03905
(A non profit group formed in 2000 by citizens interested In preserving this historic site.)

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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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