Join an MSHP staff member for a guided walk to Fort Holmes, the highest point on Mackinac Island. Meet at the Fort Mackinac Avenue of Flags. This is a Mackinac Parks: 125 free event!
Fort Holmes sits at the highest point on Mackinac Island; the views are spectacular. The fort and blockhouse were reconstructed in 2015 as part of the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
All events are expected to harmonize with the character, mission and public purpose of the site, such as dinners and receptions for convention and travel groups visiting Mackinac Island. Events celebrating birthdays, weddings, etc. are typically not permitted. Check with the Special Events Coordinator for more information on permissible events. In order to preserve the historical appearance of each site signs and decorations are restricted. Consult the Special Events Coordinator for more information.
Any licensed caterer is welcome to cater your event. Mackinac State Historic Parks does not provide catering. There is a pit toilet at Fort Holmes.
Fort Holmes is available either 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. during the summer months. Please be aware that there is no electricity at Fort Holmes and there is no electric light at the site. Event set-up may begin at 4:00 p.m.
The fort and blockhouse will remain open during your event. An interpreter and interpretive program on the War of 1812 can be added (see fees structure below).
A non-refundable $250 deposit must be made to secure Fort Holmes for an evening event. Deposits can be made via check or credit card.
-All requests for the tent must be finalized the day prior to the event
-Final payment is due day of event.
Contact the Group Travel Coordinator for an evening event application.
For more information:
Box 370, Mackinac Island, MI 49757
Mackinac State Historic Parks staff and reenactors from around the Great Lakes will gather on Mackinac Island to recreate the early years of peace following the War of 1812, and to garrison Fort Holmes. Activities will focus on the brief period (1815-1817) during which Fort Holmes served as an active and important part of Mackinac Island’s defenses. Most of the activities will take place at Fort Holmes on Saturday, July 6, with limited activities at Fort Mackinac on July 7. Events at Fort Holmes are free and are designed to enhance your visit to Fort Mackinac. Activities at Fort Mackinac require normal Fort Mackinac admission.
Schedule of Events
Saturday, July 6
9:45 a.m. Reenactors arrive to Fort Holmes
10:00 a.m. Morning colors and guard mount
10:30 a.m. Close Order Drill
11:00 a.m. Company Exercise and Firing, followed by Fort Holmes Walking Tour
12:00 p.m. War at Mackinac Tour
1:00 p.m. Rifle Drill, followed by Fort Holmes Walking Tour
2:00 p.m. War at Mackinac Tour
3:00 p.m. Company Exercise and Firing, followed by Fort Holmes Walking Tour
4:00 p.m. Design a Fort Engineering Activity
4:30 p.m. Company Exercise and Firing
5:00 p.m. Retreat and march back to Fort Mackinac camp
Sunday, July 7
9:30 a.m. Reenactors arrive to Fort Mackinac
10:00 a.m. Musket Firing Demonstration
11:30 a.m. Musket Firing Demonstration
Immediately following the War of 1812, the American army dispatched a detachment of the Regiment of Riflemen to Mackinac Island. These men were some of the most unique soldiers to ever serve at Mackinac.
Fort Holmes is located on the highest point of Mackinac Island, deep within the interior of the island. The reconstructed fort opened in 2015, based off the original 1817 plans. Fort Holmes offers unmatched views of Mackinac Island and the surrounding area, and is a beautifully unique setting for your wedding ceremony.
Fort Holmes is available for weddings after the site closes for the day at 4:00 p.m. from early May through October. The rental period is for up to two consecutive hours for decorating, rehearsal, wedding ceremony, pictures, and clean-up. Rehearsals can also be scheduled the day before.
Up to 50 white wedding chairs are provided for the ceremony an hour before the scheduled start time. A Mackinac State Historic Parks representative will be available throughout the ceremony. Historic Mission Church is also reserved for you as a guaranteed weather backup.
If you wish to view Fort Holmes in consideration of your wedding ceremony, please call to schedule a visit. Fort Holmes is open to the public, and you may also view it without an appointment.
— There is no staging area, dressing rooms or restrooms at Fort Holmes. There is, however, a latrine at the site.
— If floral arrangements are part of your wedding decor, flowers may arrive no earlier than 45 minutes prior to ceremony time. If you have scheduled musicians they are to arrive no earlier than 45 minutes prior to ceremony time. If you are working with a wedding planner, be sure they are aware of this time frame.
— It is the responsibility of the wedding party to designate an individual to remove flowers, wedding decorations, and other items immediately following the ceremony. Otherwise the items will be removed and discarded by park staff one hour after the wedding. We are unable to store any items before or after the ceremony.
$650 (Friday-Saturday) and $500 (Sunday-Thursday) for a maximum time of two hours.
— $200.00 is non-refundable under any circumstances.
— $450.00 (Friday-Saturday) or $300 (Sunday-Thursday) is refundable if cancellation is received in writing 61 days or more prior to reserved date.
— $300.00 (Friday-Saturday) or $100 (Sunday-Thursday) is refundable if cancellation is received in writing 31-60 days prior to reserved date.
— No portion is refundable if cancellation is made 30 days or less prior to the reserved date.
Fort Holmes Wedding Application PDF
For more information:
Box 873, Mackinaw City, MI 49701
Fort Holmes sits atop the highest elevation on Mackinac Island. This recent reconstruction is free and open to the public during normal operating hours May through October.
Fort Holmes is a small, wood and earthen fort on the southern end of the highest ridge on Mackinac Island. The fort was constructed by British soldiers in 1814 during the War of 1812 and named Fort George in honor of Britain’s King George III. The fort was constructed to protect Fort Mackinac against an anticipated United States attack during the war. That attack came in the summer of 1814 although the fort was not directly involved in the battle. When United States soldiers peacefully reoccupied the island after the War of 1812 the fort was renamed Fort Holmes in honor of American Major Andrew Hunter Holmes who was killed in the 1814 battle of Mackinac Island.
The fort was occupied by United States troops for just a few years after the War of 1812. It was eventually abandoned and allowed to decay. The site was included as part of Mackinac National Park (1875) and Mackinac Island State Park (1895) and was the site of at least two different viewing towers to enjoy the magnificent views of the Straits of Mackinac from this vantage point. In the 1930’s the federal government, through the Works Progress Administration, reconstructed the fort walls and blockhouse. That reconstruction is now badly deteriorated.
Using the original plans for the fort housed in the National Archives, the Mackinac State Historic Parks proposes to accurately reconstruct the fort walls and blockhouse. The walls are made of mounded earth works and logs and the blockhouse is a two-story, hewn log structure with loop holes and port holes for musket and cannon fire.
Reports in Mackinac History and Archaeology, Number 10
Evolution and history of Fort Holmes, strategically built on the island’s highest bluff overlooking Fort Mackinac.
from the book: “Summer visitors to Mackinac Island are invariably treated to a magnificent sight as their ferry rounds the stone harbor breakwall and the panorama of the island’s south side unfolds before them. Fort Mackinac, the town, summer cottages, and the Grand Hotel all gleam against a forest background. Everything is brilliantly white. Everything, that is, except a … structure overlooking the scene from the island’s highest point. Tiny Fort Holmes has experienced many transformations since it was originally established as Fort George during the last year of the War of 1812. Its history of construction, decay and various reconstructions has paralleled the fortunes of Mackinac Island through war, peace, politics, tourism, prosperity and depression.” …
Captain Charles Gratiot, an American engineer officer, sketched both forts on Mackinac Island during the summer of 1814. Fort Holmes, here named Fort George by the British, was nearing completion when Gratiot made this sketch. National Archives
At Mackinac State Historic Parks, we are fortunate to have a huge variety of historic information available to help us protect, preserve, and present the resources under our care. Our archives and artifact collections contain numerous descriptions and depictions of the historic sites we manage, providing unique snapshots in time. A great example of these descriptive works is a report written by Lt. Col. Talbot Chambers in September 1815, soon after American troops returned to Mackinac Island following the War of 1812. (more…)
Here you can find the timeline history of Fort Mackinac, the orientation video exploring Fort Mackinac’s history, virtual tours of Fort Mackinac exhibits, educational resources, and more!
Fort Mackinac was founded during the American Revolution. Believing Fort Michilimackinac at what is now Mackinaw City was too vulnerable to American attack, the British moved the fort to Mackinac Island in 1780. Americans took control in 1796. In July 1812, in the first land engagement of the War of 1812 in the United States, the British captured the fort. In a bloody battle in 1814 the Americans attempted but failed to retake the fort. It was returned to the United States after the war. The fort remained active until 1895. During these years Mackinac Island was transformed from a center of the fur trade into a major summer resort.
The stone ramparts, the south sally port and the Officer’s Stone Quarters are all part of the original fort built over 225 years ago. The other buildings in the fort are of more recent origin, dating from the late 1790s to 1885. The buildings have been restored to how they looked during the final years of the fort’s occupation. Interpreters depict U. S. Army soldiers from this same period, dressed in distinctive Prussian-inspired uniforms
1779-81 The garrison and fur trade community are moved from Michilimackinac to Mackinac Island.
1783 Mackinac Island part of new United States.
1796 British soldiers depart and American soldiers arrive to garrison fort on September 1.
1812 On July 17 British soldiers capture Fort Mackinac in first land engagement of War of 1812 in the United States.
1814 On August 4 Americans attempt but fail to recapture island. Continue reading…
This 15-minute movie provides an orientation to Fort Mackinac’s history.
Explore some of Fort Mackinac’s exciting exhibits, such as the Battle for Mackinac and the Changing Face of Fort Mackinac, 1779-1895.
The Changing Face of Fort Mackinac:
The Battle For Mackinac Island:
A Deeper Look: The Battle of Mackinac Island.
A Deeper Look: Cos. E & K, Fort Mackinac, Mich., 1886:
A Deeper Look: Cos. E & K going on Parade:
A Deeper Look: East Blockhouse:
A Deeper Look: Interior of Barracks:
Guns Across the Lakes: Capture of Fort Mackinac:
Guns Across the Lakes: The Battle of Mackinac Island:
Watch as a Fort Mackinac interpreter runs through a rifle firing demonstration at Fort Mackinac, and learn about the differing firing positions the soldiers would have used in battle.
Rifle Firing Demonstration:
Rifle Firing Positions:
U.S. Army Signal Drill of the 1880s:
Stanton Guard at Fort Mackinac during the Civil War.
Mackinac State Historic Parks maintains a robust collection of educational resources, such as lesson plans, about all of its sites, including Fort Mackinac. Learn more here.
More videos on Fort Mackinac can be found on our YouTube page, including about Wayne’s Legion, the garrison of Fort Holmes, the Fort Mackinac rifle range, and more!
Support for exhibits and demonstrations at Fort Mackinac comes from Mackinac Associates – friends preserving and sharing Mackinac’s heritage. Please consider checking them out!
Click here to check out other MSHP sites.
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