Fort Holmes

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Coordinates: 45°51′30″N 84°36′59″W / 45.858336°N 84.616442°W / 45.858336; -84.616442

Fort Holmes
Location Mackinac Island, Michigan
Part of Mackinac Island (#66000397[1])
Significant dates
Designated NHLDCP October 15, 1966
Designated MSHS September 25, 1956[2]
Location of Fort Holmes on the island
Stairway up to Fort Holmes, the highest point on Mackinac Island

Fort Holmes was a fortified earthen redoubt located on the highest point of Mackinac Island. Originally built in 1814 by British forces during the War of 1812, the redoubt was improved by that army throughout the course of the war (1812–1814) to help defend the adjacent Fort Mackinac from a possible attack by the U.S. Army.

The British named the redoubt Fort George and reinforced it with cannon, a blockhouse, and a magazine for gunpowder and other munitions. However, Fort Holmes never functioned as an independent military fortification. It was always a dependent outpost of nearby Fort Mackinac.

When United States armed forces reoccupied Mackinac Island in 1815 under the terms of the Treaty of Ghent, they took possession of Fort George. They surveyed and measured their prize, which they renamed Fort Holmes, in honor of Major Andrew Holmes, a casualty in the 1814 Battle of Mackinac Island. However, the American army soon abandoned Fort Holmes. The earthworks and buildings of the former redoubt slowly eroded and disappeared over the course of more than a century.

In 1936, as part of efforts to fight the nationwide Great Depression, a corps of CCC workers were assigned to Mackinac Island. Using the original 1817 American survey and plans, they rebuilt Fort Holmes to its War of 1812 appearance.

As of 2010 most of the reconstructed buildings of Fort Holmes have again disappeared, except for the redoubt's earthen walls. Many visitors come to the fort site for a view of the Straits of Mackinac, much of which is visible from this lookout point approximately 310 feet (94 m) above the surface of Lake Huron.

In 2015 the Mackinac Island State Park completed a second reconstruction of Fort Holmes that resumes the appearance that it had in 1817.[3] The blockhouse includes interpretive panels inside, and is open in the summer. The building can be rented for special occasions.


  1. ^ "NPS Focus". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved August 2, 2010. 
  2. ^ State of Michigan (2009). "Fort Holmes Informational Site". Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Historic War of 1812 redoubt Fort Holmes rebuilt atop Mackinac Island". MIchigan Live. August 17, 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  • Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Fort Holmes [Reports in Mackinac History and Archeology: No. 10] (Mackinac State Historic Parks, Mackinaw City, Mich.) [1].