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.