Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fort Warren and George's Island

Last Saturday, despite the sweltering July heat and humidity (hooray Boston! oi vey.), we took the ferry across Boston Harbor to George's Island, home of Fort Warren.

View from the ferry deck of some of the harbor islands
 Fort Warren is a mid-19th century fort that was in use from the Civil War through World War II. The fort takes up most of the island, and during the Civil War it was a location for Confederate POWs. They had the run of the island--they just weren't allowed to go in the water. It's a national park, and if you're ever in the Boston area I highly recommend checking it out! It's fascinating. Although, to be fair, a big part of how interesting and educational the trip turned out to be was due to Paul and Laura, our friends and fellow dancers, who gave us the best tour. Paul knew a ton of really interesting things about the fort beyond it's general history, and they combined the history with anecdotes about reenactments they've attended on the grounds.

view from the hill--this was taken by my Dad (I hope my photography gets this good, but in the meantime his fort photos were way better and I'm stealing them)

from the top of the wall (the brick and cement is one the chimneys), with the Boston skyline in the background
We were on the island to perform dances from the 1860s ballroom--mostly contra dances and quadrilles (it was too hot for much else, plus cement is a difficult surface)--ones that the soldiers at Fort Warren (both stationed and imprisoned) might have known (they were all from dance manuals of the period).

A special thing for me was that my parents came! It was really fun to have them there, and my dad is a great photographer so he also took some pictures of us dancing...which means I can share them with you! (and them--sorry they took a while, Mom.)

with Mom

and Dad
I also made a new dress! It's a light cotton 1860s day dress (and I haven't trimmed it yet, so the dress itself is kind of plain), made of really cool fabric: an original 1850s print of purple flowers. Quinn took a trip to a wholesale quilting store that carries historically accurate prints, and we all made dresses from the bolts she chose. Super neat!

our whole group--Quinn (to the right of me), and Julia (far right in the front row, in green) all have dresses in historic prints
I need to lengthen the skirt a bit and add trim, but overall I actually really like this dress. 1860s is always my favorite period to wear (especially to dance in!) and it's way better for hot weather than you might think. I was actually equally comfortable in this as I was in shorts and a tank top--although to be fair, I could also say I was equally miserable. On the other hand, the layers of cotton absorbed sweat and kept me feeling better than modern clothes...so after our performance we explored to fort and took pictures instead of changing immediately.

Enough about sweat! On to the pictures!

grand marching with members of the audience

the welcome shed on the island

being silly at the guard house

admiring the flowers

on the hill

Oh no!

I thought it was my turn for some pretty hill pictures, but...


I forgave him...eventually...

touring the fort! look at all those lovely historic prints!
inside the outer wall, crossing into the central area

exploring some of the interior--heading down into the officers' quarters, I believe?

the main grounds inside the fort

in one of the armory rooms hearing about fort life!

label on the wall for what type of weapon was stored there

a very large oven in the fort kitchens!

Apparently during the Civil War those railings weren't there--falling was a very real danger!

the view from the lookout

can you see Boston behind us?


race you to the bottom of the hill!

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