In 1755, at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War in North America the French military began a fort to overlook the outlet of the La Chute River that connected Lake George with Lake Champlain. This area was historically a critical portage in the waterway linking New York with New France (Canada).
In July 1758 the small French garrison defeated a vastly superior British army in the bloodiest battle in American history until the Civil War. The next year the British army succeeded in driving the French from Carillon (as Ticonderoga was then called) and secured it for Great Britain for the next sixteen years. On 10 May 1775, Americans captured Fort Ticonderoga in what many people consider the first significant American victory of the Revolution. Two years later the British army returned with superior numbers and forced the evacuation of the American army from Ticonderoga. After the defeat of the British army at Saratoga that fall, the British evacuated Ticonderoga largely destroying its fortifications and structures.
The grounds of the former military post were purchased by New York merchant William Ferris Pell in 1820 and remained in the family's possession for the rest of the 19th century. During that time the ruins were amongst the first heritage tourism sites in America. Stephen H.P. Pell (William Ferris Pell's grandson) and his wife Sarah G.T. Pell initiated the reconstruction of the fort around the old ruins in 1908, completing the first portion in 1909, and the site has remained open to the public since.
Together Stephen and Sarah Pell assembled the core museum collections. In 1931, they established the nonprofit Fort Ticonderoga Association to assure the preservation of the site in perpetuity, simultaneously embracing the family’s commitment while ensuring preservation of the site beyond the vagaries of succeeding generations. The collection has grown in the century since Stephen and Sarah Pell began collection and now encompasses thousands of artifacts acquired in the 20th century, archeological material recovered from the site from over a century, and a large collection of archival material.
Restored Fort Ticonderoga was named one of the first National Historic Landmarks in 1960. In 1972 this museum was one of the first 26 accredited by the American Association of Museums and has achieved re-accreditation each decade since. Today Fort Ticonderoga honors its history and the legacy of its founders by maintaining its rich collection, mounting thought provoking exhibitions, and introducing new generations of museum goers to our remarkable story.