Fort Independence Boston, Ma

History of Fort Independence


Present Day Structure

Construction of Fort Independence 

The construction of the current Fort was completed in 1851. It is the eighth version of the Fort at this current location. This web page concentrates on Fort presently on Castle Island. If you want to see the History of all eight forts built in this location, go to History on this website.

Fort Independence, as seen from the Shipping Channel
Fort Independence, as seen from the Shipping Channel

In 1977, renovations by the former Metropolitan District Commission were concluded. In 2003, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) was created, and the Metropolitan District Commission merged into this new state agency. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) now have jurisdiction to maintain the Fort and its surrounding area. They have done a tremendous job making the area enjoyable for all.

Parade Grounds durning 1976 renovations. Photo Courtesy Massachusetts State Archives

The original construction of the current Fort began in 1834. Using over 172,687 linear feet of hammered granite, Colonel Thayer took over seventeen years to complete its construction. The granite for the Fort was cut from quarries in Rockport, MA. Wooden sailing sloops that required auxiliary heavy derricks boom to load and unload the cargo were then used to bring the Granite to Boston. This journey spanned 35 to 40 nautical miles over open, treacherous ocean waters from Rockport to Boston.

Sailing ship Abert Baldwin used to Transport Granite to Bosotn
Albert Baldwin Coursty of Cape ann Muesum

Albert Baldwin Sailing Vessel

Albert Baldwin was one of many sailing vessels transporting heavy granite from Cape Anne to Boston. Note that the heavy derrick next to the boom was used to lift the bulky granite to shore, and the boat could carry up to 200 tons of granite. To read more details about Halibut Point and how granite was shipped to different projects on the East Coast,  “Notes from Halibut Point”.

Sylvanus Thayer

Sylvanus Thayer was born in Braintree, MA; the town’s library is named in  his honor. Thayer was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers in 1808 and sent to Boston as an assistant engineer in constructing the original Fort
Warren on Governors Island, 
which is now a part of Logan Airport.

Thayer was considered “the Father of West Point,” and he served there from May 1817 to June 1833. After leaving West Point, Thayer spent most of the next 30 years as a chief engineer in the Boston area. During this period, he oversaw theconstruction of Fort
Fort Independence, and a Forton Governors Island to defend Boston Harbor. 

Fort Warren and Fort Independence are now part of the National Register of Historic Places. Governors Island is now part of  Logan Airport in the  1920s expansion.

Thayer remained in the Army until 1863, after which he retired as a brigadier general after 55 years of service. He left his estate to the Thayer Academy in Braintree and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. In 1867, Thayer donated $30,000 to the trustees of Dartmouth University to start its first Engineering School to learn about this history. By 1871, Dartmouth had established a graduate school. Only three students were admitted in 1871, but the program soon grew, and both the military and civilian population recognized the reputation of the graduates.”

Other Internal links for more enjoyable reading

For a video and images of the June 2022 USS Constitution turnaround;

For more details about the Castle island State Park;

For photos of the 1977 Renovations.

Resources used for this Article:

Castle Island and Fort Independence book by William Reid

This book can found at Boston Public Library or puchased thru Castle Island Assocation