Did You Know…….(#2)

Anonymously Contributed
Edited by Carol McCracken

That there was once a Fort on North Street on Munjoy Hill?

It was called Fort Sumner and is believed to have been located between Sumner Court and continuing to about the center of the lot on which the former Shailer School is located. (It’s currently housing.) In 1982, former Governor Joseph Brennan, who grew up on Kellogg Street, signed a bill designating it a park “in perpetuity.”

The Fort dates back to 1794 when the federal government under George Washington ordered that a fort be built on the site. In 1799, the fort was officially named for the late Massachusetts Governor, Increase Sumner. Details are sketchy, but between October 1815 and June 1817, Fort Sumner was dismantled as a military installation. Then in 1827, John Neal set up one of the first gymnasiums in New England on the grounds of the former Fort. Shailer School was built in 1880-1881 on the northern corner of the fort site.

The question has been asked and never fully answered as to whether the fort in his poem “My Lost Youth,” by Henry W. Longfellow, was Fort Sumner or Fort Allen on the Hill. Longfellow was 8 years old when the dismantling of the Fort began, so it’s quite possible he knew of the activity up here on North Street.