In 1749, a French and Iroquois alliance established a “mission fort” where the St. Lawrence and Oswegatchie rivers meet. It stood where the current U. S. City of Ogdensburg is located, on what is now the U. S./ Canadian border between New York State and the Province of Ontario. Named “Fort de la Présentation” by the Fort’s founder, the Catholic missionary Abbé Francois Picquet, it was one of only four forts constructed in New York during the French colonial period (1749-1760).
The Fort brought several cultures together – American, Canadian, Native American, French, and British – for worship, trade and protection. The strategic St. Lawrence Valley location made the Fort a valuable military asset in three wars, each time serving a different national interest – the French in the French and Indian War, the British in the American Revolution, and the Americans in the War of 1812.
The Fort is considered the founding settlement of the City of Ogdensburg, New York, which grew around the Fort in the post-Colonial years. In later years, the Fort was torn down and the site used for industry beginning in the 19th century. The property ultimately became a vacant
brownfield site, until the Fort La Présentation Association obtained and re-mediated the property.
The Fort La Présentation Association has been fortunate in acquiring approximately 21 acres that makes up a significant portion of the original site of the Fort. For years our 501 C 3 corporation has worked toward our goal of reconstructing this historic French mission fort. Research and development at the property continues with the cooperation of the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation. Throughout the year the all-volunteer Association work on a number of events that continue to educate the public on the significant, multicultural history of the site.
A Timeline of the Fort La Présentation Association and Site Projects:
- Fort La Présentation Company incorporated by the Regents of The University of the State of New York
- Archaeological excavations at the Fort La Présentation site on Lighthouse Point by Garrett Cook of SUNY Potsdam revealed 18th-century artifacts, but petroleum contamination that curtailed the dig
- Steven Marqusee, SUNY Potsdam, excavated the location identified as the northeastern corner of the fort
- “The French and Indian Settlement at Ogdensburg” Persis Boyesen The Quarterly
- “The Dig on Lighthouse Point” Garrett Cook The Quarterly
- Fort La Présentation Company is registered as a 501 (c) (3) public charity and takes the mantle of the fort reconstruction project from the Ogdensburg Historical Commission
- Agreement with Paul Carr and James Bernier to buy 18 acres for $100,000 on Lighthouse Point
- First annual Founder’s Day Weekend French and Indian War encampment held on Fort Association’s property on Lighthouse Point with fewer than two dozen re-enactors
- Fort Association starts newsletter, now called Les Nouvelles du fort/The Fort News
- City of Ogdensburg obtained a $50,000 grant for fort feasibility study
- Established the Persis Yates Boyesen Award for outstanding contribution toward the historically accurate reconstruction and ongoing presence of Fort La Présentation
- The first Annual Meeting and Award Ceremony
- Established the David L. Dickinson Annual Volunteer Award for his outstanding commitment of time and effort dedicated to Fort La Présentation
- Fort Association reports petroleum contamination of Lighthouse Point property to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
- $5,000 grant thanks to Senator Wright/Assemblywoman Scozzafavo
- $50,000 HUD grant for environmental remediation and architectural services thanks to Congressman McHugh
- ExxonMobil refuses to sign an agreement with DEC to investigate contamination uncovered by Atlantic Testing Laboratories
- Acquired $100,000 HUD grant for environmental remediation and architectural services thanks to Congressman McHugh
- Acquired from Paul Carr and James Bernier an additional four acres on Lighthouse Point
- Bernier and Carr forgive debt, giving 22 acres free and clear to the Fort Association
- City of Ogdensburg assesses property at $1 million
- Fort Association lobbying leads ExxonMobil to agree to sign Consent Order to clean the site
- $50,000 ESD grant environmental cleanup and architectural issues thanks to Senator Wright
- Fort La Présentation Association officially designated to host New York State’s final French and Indian War commemoration in 2010. After lengthy discussions, DEC accepts ExxonMobil’s revised work plan
- Fort Association goes online, www.fortlapresentation.net (now http://www.fort1749.org)
- ExxonMobil ‘voluntarily’ reimburses Fort Association more than $31,000 in legal and technical fees; sets a NYS precedent
- $67,000 HUD grant for environmental remediation and architectural services thanks to Congressman McHugh
- Foit-Albert Associates hired to provide fort design and construction documents
- No remediation of site by ExxonMobil
- Fort Association submitted a plan to clean property using the NYS Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund
- $50,000 DANC grant to develop a remedial plan, Senator Wright
- ExxonMobil agrees to pay Fort Association more than $18,200.50 in legal and technical fees
- “Faunal Analysis at Fort La Presentation” Allen, Kari L, Jessica Vavrasek and Rebecca Nelson, presented at the 45th Annual Northeastern Anthropological Association Meetings
- Phase 1A cultural resources investigation by Panamerican Consultants
- Endowment fund established to ensure the heritage of the fort is carried forward
- Historic research report by David Dickinson and Francois Gagnon, Archival researcher.
- Through lobbying by the Fort Association, DEC withdraws Consent Order and assumes cleanup of fort association property
- Nature’s Way Environmental Consulting contracted to undertake site remediation
- The All-American City judges declare the fort “showed good citizen participation and collaboration, and found it amazing that a volunteer group from the community took on Exxon and won.”
- $3,000 David Dickinson Sponsorship
- ExxonMobil agrees to pay Fort Association more than $72,405.75 in legal and technical fees
- Foit-Albert conceptual plans, Phase #1 engineering schedule and cost estimates
- $10-million site remediation completed by DEC; 63,465 tons of contaminated soil removed from Fort Association and ExxonMobil properties
- $50,000 Sweetgrass Foundation grant
- Andrew L Kozlowski of the New York State Museum conducts ground penetrating radar surveys to delineate buried structural features of the fort
- Aaron Gore of New York State Museum leads team in a phase-one excavation of fort’s archaeological remains where 18th-century artifacts are found at floor level of northeast bastion
- Phase II Cultural Resource Survey Report, Aaron Gore, MA, Division of Research and Collections New York State Museum.
- First professional visitors’ survey at Founder’s Day Weekend confirms strengths and areas for improvement; recommendations implemented
- Fort Association launched membership drive in Ogdensburg13669 zip code
- Other issues related to ExxonMobil remain to be resolved and discussions continue between the state and lawyers for various parties
- Andrew L Kozlowski of the New York State Museum presented GPR Stratigraphy of Fort La Presentation: Successful Targeted Delineation in a Highly Impacted Cultural Site at the 21st Annual Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems
- “Archaeological Research at Fort La Presentation, Ogdensburg, New York” Aaron Gore and Andrew Kozlowski, New York State Museum
- Fort Association sponsored weekend events in Ogdensburg and at Fort Drum commemorating Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry’s 1756 raid from La Présentation to Fort Bull
- First Strategic, business and interpretation plans drafted
- Load bearing soil samples taken at proposed Fort reconstruction site on Lighthouse Point
- Topographic survey of proposed Fort reconstruction site on Lighthouse Point
- Fort Association launched membership in northern St. Lawrence County
- $4,000 David Dickinson Sponsorship
- The State Preservation Board nominates Lighthouse Point, Fort La Présentation’s original site, for the state and federal registers
- Fort Association initiates branding exercise with professional consultant
- Professional fundraising campaign for Fort La Présentation developed. Board pledges $20,000.
- Strategic plan professionally revised and amended
- Fort Association launched membership drive among re-enactors
- Fort association initiates first annual War of 1812 symposium. Professional survey confirms strengths and areas for improvement; recommendations implemented
- Abbé Picquet Monument, honoring the fort’s founder Abbé François Picquet, returned to Lighthouse Point with the cooperation of the Swe-Kat-Si Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Notre Dame Roman Catholic Church
- Interpretive plaques telling the story of Fort La Présentation and Fort Lévis erected beside monument with the cooperation of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Association and the NYS French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.
- Fort Association joined by Quebec Historical Corps to bring about largest Founder’s Day Weekend to date with 400 re-enactors and heritage interpreters
- Dr. D. Peter MacLeod of the Canadian War Museum grants permission to print his unpublished papers in Les Nouvelles du fort/The Fort News
- Initiate cross border Founder’s Day Weekend cooperation with Parks Canada and St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott, Ontario
- Other cooperative ventures discussed with the City of Brockville, Ontario
- Fort La Présentation Association hosted New York State’s final 250th anniversary commemoration of the French and Indian War honoring soldiers, sailors, militia and native warriors who served at the Battle of the Thousand Islands and the siege of Fort Lévis in 1760.
- Established Living History Educational Day for area 4th and 7th graders in partnership with St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES
- Developed Curriculum materials for 4th and 7th grade
- 10,000 grant from AT&T to develop a traveling Educational Kit to include Native and Colonial artifact reproductions, curriculum materials and Library.
- Lighthouse Point is placed on the National Register of Historic Places
- Professional Exist survey for the 2010 New York State French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemoration signature event ($350,000-500,000 direct impact).
- Kiwanis $5,000
- Robin Morris Bench
- City of Ogdensburg $10,000 Marketing
- SeaComm $5,000 Interpretive Center
- Kiwanis $5,000 Interpretive Center
- SLFCU $1,000 Interpretive Center
- Preserve America Community designation
- PBS Path Through History subcommittee and tourism promotions
- Conceptual plans for Abbe Picquet Trail
- Losing Ground Saving War of 1812 Battlefields Documentary CNYPBS
- NY Council for the Humanities $3,000 War of 1812 Sixth Heritage Talks
- Aaron Gore Fort La Presentation Phase II Cultural Resource Survey Fort site
- Letting the Ogdensburg Community Garden establish a public community garden on the Fort property.
- Revolutionary War, Native Village (member item DOS $10,000) and War of 1812 Panels (GLST)
- Addie Russell $25,000 for Monument Plaza
- Department of State Received OPRHP $352,650 grant for trail from NCREC/OPRHP
- Established the first Northern NY Primitive Snowshoe Biathlon
- Title search of property to mid1800’s
- 2014 RVRA grant $40,000 for trail
- Addie Russell $10,000 for Trail OPRHP
- City of Ogdensburg $12,500 for Feasibility Study NCREC/DOS
- NY Council for the Humanities $3,000 for Founder’s Weekend
- Path Through History signage
- Kiwanis $5,000 Interpretive Center
- Aaron Gore Fort La Presentation Phase III Cultural Resource Survey Fort site. Uncovered floor of one of the Bastions.
- Established the Joseph Cosentino Memorial Award for Special Recognition, Commitment or self and Resources to the Fort de la Présentation Project
- $150,000.00 and $20,000 in legal fees and a release of liability for any remaining petroleum
- The Association will use the correct official name of Light Point which is Van Rensselaer Point
- Contamination remediation on the Fort La Présentation site, the original site of Fort de la Présentation and the former ExxonMobil Oil Terminal
- Acquired the 4-acre Exxon Mobil Property plus $10,000 for expenses
- NNYCF matching $10,000 grant for the Abbé Picquet Trail
- Abbé Picquet Trail and War of 1812 Peace Garden Dedication
- Increase programming to community – Carp Fishing Tournament, SLC Public Health, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, SLCA, NYS Path Through History.
- Dedicated the Masonic monument
- Outline of Fort de la Présentation based on original plans
- Place a swinging bench on the Abbé Picquet Trail
- NNYCF Matching $10,000 for Endowment Campaign
- War of 1812 Peace Garden receives the Maple Leaf Award from the Ogdensburg Garden Club.
- The Fort La Présentation Company (DBA Association) 990 Federal Tax return and Financial Statement are at the Ogdensburg Public Library and on our website at www.fort1749.org.
- Received a REDI Grant for $1,230,250.00 to install shoreline stabilization and raise the trails on the Fort La Présentation Interpretive Trail
- Tenth Living History Day for 4th and 5th graders
- Twentieth Founder’s Weekend – French and Indian War Re-enactment and Living History Event
- Twentieth Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony
- Seventh NNY Primitive Snowshoe Biathlon
- Updated Strategic Plan based on Feasibility Study
- The Abbé Picquet Trail was completed in December
- Received a $1,295,000.00 REDI grant stabilize the St. Lawrence and Oswegatchie River shoreline and to portions of the Abbé Picquet Trail.
- Received a $10,000 grant to use toward the Association’s $64,750 REDI Grant match from the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency.
- St. Lawrence County Legislature released $58,325.00 that will be used for a matching contribution on the REDI shoreline stabilization project to mitigate future flooding.