The saying “an Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure” embodies the purpose of museums and historic sites around the world. Preserving objects for future generations goes beyond simply putting something behind glass or locking it away in a vault. To ensure an object’s survival, we also need to consider how it is stored, how it will be used or displayed, and who gets to use it. These questions might seem easy to answer if the object in question is a piece of art or a uniform jacket, but what if we are talking about an entire building?
Since construction began in 1826, the Pavilion has served many purposes and undergone a number of changes. After serving as a private residence and hotel, museum founders Stephen and Sarah Pell restored the building in 1909, converting it back into a seasonal residence for family members and international dignitaries alike. This was no easy task as the building had fallen into disrepair, and Stephen even commented that before beginning the work cows could be found in the parlor!
We are continuing the tradition of adaptive reuse in this second major restoration, currently underway—the Pavilion will include year-round offices for staff, dedicated exhibition galleries, and flexible event space. In doing so, we build preservation into the fabric of the building by making sure it will not sit empty and making sure it is adequately equipped to handle seasonal changes in temperature and humidity in the North Country.
Adaptive reuse does not have to stop with buildings. Renowned interior decorator Sister Parish was hired to redecorate the Pavilion in 1963, following her highly publicized work with Jackie Kennedy in the White House. Parish was a firm believer in integrating antiques and heirlooms into her designs with thoughtful changes. Rather than recommending the Pell’s purchase new chairs to go with her design for the dining room, Sister Parish recommended reupholstering failing leather seats with green, gold, and cream satin. By ‘upcycling’ the dining set, she ensured its preservation for future generations, just as Fort Ticonderoga will ensure the Pavilion is an integral part of the Fort Ticonderoga experience and a vibrant part of our historical landscape.