Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Selling History

I had lunch on Sunday with some friends of ours and the subject of my writing came up. I mentioned that perhaps it was the heat of July and August or perhaps it was because I had been busy with numerous projects over the summer, but I just haven’t been very enthusiastic regarding my writing topics until……until I saw this article regarding Fort Ticonderoga.

I mentioned to my lunch companions that apparently the fort is a bit cash strapped because they are looking into selling some of the property’s artwork and artifacts. Instantly one of my companions remarked, “Wait, how can they do that? The government owns the fort, don’t they?”

Read the article and you will discover as I did that Fort Ticonderoga is privately owned and is only on the National Historical Register. It is not part of the National Parks Service as many historical locations are. Therefore, they can sell what they wish, and it appears they are wishing hard. One item in particular is a painting by Thomas Cole titled Gelyna: View Outside of Ticonderoga (1829). See it to your left. You can click on it to see a larger view. It’s rather interesting, don’t you think?

Apparently the money mess began when the fort’s main benefactors, Deborah and Forest E. Mars, Jr. (of candy bar fame), pulled out cold turkey because they had a problem with some of the museum folk. If you read the article I linked to above as well as this Topix thread the whole thing sounds like a financial soap opera.

Sheesh people…this is history….this is Fort Ticonderoga. Quit trifling with it over power issues.


CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

I think it's pathetic that Fort Ticonderoga is not owned by the federal government. Maybe it's time that "we the people" insisted on a government takeover. That would put a stop to the selling off of the fort's treasures.

EHT said...

Well, it wouldn't be the first time the fort was "taken over." :)

Anonymous said...

So happy to find your website, you've done such thorough research. There's a new article on the current events coming out today in the NY Times (Sept. 4). I'm personally opposed to the sale of anything to pay the bills, and legally so is the state of New York, so it is doubtful that the collection will be compromised. My grandfather John Pell and his parents Stephen and Sarah put their lives and fortunes into rebuilding the fort and putting together this amazing collection. It was a mistake for the director to publicize the "option" of selling any artwork or artifacts, as it is not a legal option. In this case, bad publicity is good, if it has prevented a very bad decision from being made behind closed doors.