Fort Sumner (Maine)

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Fort Sumner
Munjoy Hill, Portland, Maine
Fort Sumner is located in Maine
Fort Sumner
Fort Sumner
Location in Maine
Coordinates 43°40′03″N 70°15′03″W / 43.66750°N 70.25083°W / 43.66750; -70.25083Coordinates: 43°40′03″N 70°15′03″W / 43.66750°N 70.25083°W / 43.66750; -70.25083
Type Coastal Defense
Site information
Owner public
Controlled by City of Portland
Site history
Built 1794
In use 1794-1820s
Demolished circa 1835?
Battles/wars War of 1812

Fort Sumner was a coastal defense fortification on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine, United States. It was built in 1794 as part of the First System of coastal fortifications built by the United States. It was reportedly originally named Fort Allen after the nearby Revolutionary War battery that probably became part of Fort Sumner, but was renamed in 1797 after Increase Sumner, the incumbent Governor of Massachusetts, of which Maine was then a part.[1][2][3] The location is now Fort Sumner Park, also called Standpipe Park, at 60 North Street.


Fort Sumner consisted of a blockhouse, magazine, and barracks on the summit of Munjoy Hill, where Fort Sumner Park is now, and a "water battery" (battery near a body of water) or "detached battery", probably where Fort Allen Park is now and an upgrade of the Revolutionary War Fort Allen. The battery was rebuilt in 1798 and 1808.[3] The Secretary of War's report for December 1811 describes a battery "at the north end of the town... of five guns mounted and four 18-pounders mounted on travelling carriages".[4] This probably refers to the detached battery, which may have been on the Fort Allen site. Fort Sumner lessened in importance with the construction of Fort Preble and Fort Scammel in 1808. Fort Allen was rebuilt in 1814 with city resources, adding a magazine and barracks due to the British capture of Eastport and Castine in the War of 1812.[3]

In 1800-1801 Fort Sumner's commander was Captain John Henry, who resigned his command in 1801, became a spy for the British, and was later instrumental in starting the War of 1812. In 1802 the fort's commander was Captain Amos Stoddard of the Regiment of Artillerists, a Portland resident, who successfully kept the fort garrisoned when ordered to Fort Constitution in Portsmouth, New Hampshire by dividing his company.[5] Fort Sumner was probably abandoned in the early 1820s.[2]

In 1827 John Neal established a gymnasium at the fort.[6]


Fort Sumner Park (also called Standpipe Park) is located at 60 North Street. It offers an excellent view of the city. Its main feature is the Fort Sumner Steps, which cross over the summit of Munjoy Hill. Nothing remains of the fort in Fort Sumner Park, but a few earthworks remain in nearby Fort Allen Park.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wade, p. 15
  2. ^ a b Fort Sumner at
  3. ^ a b c Portland forts at
  4. ^ Wade, p. 241
  5. ^ Wade, p. 86
  6. ^ Roberts, p. 373
  • Roberts, Robert B. (1988). Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-926880-X.
  • Wade, Arthur P. (2011). Artillerists and Engineers: The Beginnings of American Seacoast Fortifications, 1794-1815. CDSG Press. ISBN 978-0-9748167-2-2.

External links[edit]