If you’ve always wanted to own a Civil War fort, then this is your lucky day: Fort Montgomery is for sale for the discounted price of just $1.4 million, which includes about 350 acres of land (although about 85 of those are underwater at the moment) and a huge pile of crumbling limestone, complete with slit windows for firing cannons out of. The limestone came from the same quarry as the stone that built Radio City Music Hall, according to the realtor’s website (which looks like it was designed in 1994 using Windows Notepad). “Rebuild your dream on the rich ruins of history,” it says, along with a Powerpoint presentation of the fort’s charms, which include tunnels covered in graffiti.
There’s no rush in case you actually do want to buy this crumbling pile: the fort, and the man-made island it sits on, have actually been for sale since about 2006. Prior to that date, a businessman named Victor Podd owned the fort, and used it as the headquarters for his company, Powertex. After he died, his heirs tried to sell it, and in 2006 someone offered $5 million for it, but the sale never went through.
Construction of the fort and the island — which overlook Lake Champlain, close to the Canadian border — started in 1844 and continued for more than two decades. The fort was actually the second attempt to build a military outpost on the site; the first was almost completed when the builders realized that it was actually on the Canadian side of the border, so it was torn down, and is now known to history only as “Fort Blunder.” When the international border was redrawn, it turned out the site was on the US side, so a new fort was built.
The new fort was named after General Richard Montgomery, who was killed during the 1775 invasion of Canada at Quebec City, during the Revolutionary War. When completed, the fort was equipped with 125 cannons on three different levels, and it was designed to hold 800 soldiers, although it never wound up hosting that many during its useful life. At one point there was a draw-bridge connecting the fort to the mainland, with a moat.
According to the Wikipedia entry for the fort, a buyer might be taking on more than just an old pile of stone — local preservationists say what remains of the fort today is “in danger of a catastrophic structural collapse.” This is in part due to the removal of iron reinforcing rods, which were likely cut out for their scrap value during the wartime scrap metal drives of World War II. Some believe the lack of reinforcing rods caused the collapse of the one of the fort’s tower, which was completely destroyed in 1980, mostly falling into the moat.