Fort Popham, Maine

Fort Popham in Phippsburg, Maine is a coastal defense battery on the Kennebuc River in Phippsburg, Maine. Construction on this semi-circular granite block fort began in 1861 (for the Civil War) and stopped in 1869, never to be completed. The fort was garrisoned again during the Spanish-American War and World War I, though eventually became obsolete with the construction of nearby Fort Baldwin. The fort included 35 cannons, all in two levels of casements.  Fort Popham is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

This summer I visited Fort Popham and was struck by the beauty of the granite structure, particularly the casements and staircases (see photos below). The interpretive signage was sufficient, though more information would have been helpful in understanding how the fort had been changed over the centuries. The conditions appear worrisome; conservation work is obviously needed. I was actually surprised that you could walk anywhere on the second level. And the roof had been long ago paved in asphalt. It was an interesting series of repairs and lack of repairs.

View from the top: see the two levels of casements.

View from the top: see the two levels of casements.

Looking to the other side.

Looking to the other side.

The casements where the cannons would have been. The vaulted brick ceilings are striking.

The casements where the cannons would have been. The vaulted brick ceilings are striking.

Texture, everywhere!

Texture, everywhere!

Casement construction.

Casement construction interpretive panel.

The row behind the casements - hide when the cannons are firing!

The row behind the casements – hide when the cannons are firing! And look at the size of those granite blocks.

The brick ceilings of the casements are in need of conservation work.

The brick ceilings of the casements are in need of conservation work.

Another example.

Another example. You can see more of the structure in this image, too.

The beautiful granite staircase. Fort Popham was considered a marvel of its time.

The beautiful granite staircase. Fort Popham was considered a marvel of its time.

Cannon markings, where the cannon would slide back and forth.

Cannon markings, where the cannon would slide back and forth.

View out one of the fort's windows.

View out one of the fort’s windows.

Here is an instance where I wanted to know what had changed, and what wasn't completed.

Here is an instance where I wanted to know what had changed, and what wasn’t completed.

And again, what has changed? What hadn't been finished?

And again, what has changed? What hadn’t been finished?

Fort Popham is intriguing, beautiful and definitely worth a visit if you are in the Freeport/Brunswick/Phippsburg area of Maine. And just down the road is the well known Fort Popham State Park, where the beach seems to go on forever at low tide. It’s spectacular. And being at a salt water beach with pine trees rather than just sky and dunes is quite a new experience for this Long Island girl.

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3 thoughts on “Fort Popham, Maine

  1. Wow! What a beautiful fort! It seems more like something you’d see in Italy, instead of from the Civil War in Maine. For a fort, especially one that was never used, the focus seems to be placed more on the architectural elements rather than whether it would be able to hold off attackers. Great post!

  2. This is my favorite place to visit (all year) on the coast. (the closest one to me) As a child picnicking on the beach or the tables outside is a fond memory.

    The 2nd floor was not always fully accessible. They’ve done some restoration/fixing of the fort because it wasn’t until after I graduated high school (1992) that they opened the entire 2nd floor. The pictures you shared look a lot like the ones I’ve taken there over the years.

    My close friend got married on the parade grounds inside the fort a couple years ago. It would be one of the top 10 places to visit if I were to tell someone from away where to visit in Maine. That and Fort Knox in Prospect ME. (Bucksport area) I should make a list for real. :-)

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Pingback: Bidding Adieu to 2013, Welcoming 2014 | Preservation in Pink

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