The Fort Pitt Blockhouse

The Blockhouse at Fort Pitt.

The Blockhouse at Point State Park is the oldest standing structure in the City of Pittsburgh. It was ordered built in 1764 by Colonel Henry Bouquet, the British commandant at Fort Pitt, and often referred to as "Bouquet's Redoubt". The Blockhouse is a two-story structure with firing steps and rifle slits all around the walls. It stood outside the main walls of Fort Pitt as a first line of defense in case of attack.

Fort Pitt in 1776. Bouquet's Reboubt
stands outside the walls of the fort.
Fort Pitt in 1776, showing Bouquet's Redoubt outside the main walls and moat surrounding the fort.

The defensive redoubt served the fort for less than ten years. In 1772, it was used as a trading post by Alexander McKee. The main structures of Fort Pitt were abandoned and demolished in 1797. The blockhouse, which was converted into private home in 1785, was left standing. It was the residence of Isaac Craig, Chief Burgess from 1802-1803, and birthplace of author Neville B. Craig. It remained a private dwelling for a over a century.

The Blockhouse at Fort Pitt in 1893.
The Fort Pitt blockhouse in 1893, when the building was still in use as a multi-family residence.

In 1894, the building was donated to the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution by Mary Schenley. Eight years later, in 1902, Henry Clay Frick purchased the land surrounding the blockhouse and attempted to have the structure moved to Schenley Park. This effort was blocked in court by the D.A.R. and preservation work on the historic site began.

The Blockhouse at Fort Pitt in 1903.
The blockhouse in 1903, after initial preservation work by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The structure was restored by the D.A.R. and became a Pittsburgh landmark. For sixty years, until 1966, a caretaker lived in the Blockhouse Lodge, a small two-story home that stood next to the blockhouse. In the 1950s, plans for a state park at the Point included demolition of the caretaker's residence and the blockhouse. As they did back in 1903, the D.A.R. successfully went to court and blocked this action. In 1960, the site was granted status as a National Historic Landmark.

Pittsburgh's Point in 1955 after clearing for
the construction of Point State Park. The
blockhouse and the caretaker's home are
the only structures left standing.
Pittsburgh's Point in 1955, after clearing the land for construction of Point State Park.
Only the Fort Pitt Blockhouse and the caretaker's residence remain.

Today, the historic Fort Pitt Blockhouse is the cornerstone of the Fort Pitt Museum and one of the central attractions in Point State Park. A mini-musemum in it's own right, the blockhouse is open to visitors and contains small exhibits and artifacts dating back to the days of British colonial rule. The blockhouse is a vital link to the colonial heritage of our city.

The Blockhouse at Fort Pitt in 2005.

For more information on the Fort Pitt Museum and the blockhouse,

The Blockhouse at Fort Pitt in the late 1800s.    The Blockhouse at Fort Pitt in the early 1900s.
The blockhouse as a residence in the late-1800s (left) and a few years later, after restoration work had begun.

The Blockhouse at Fort Pitt in 1925.
The blockhouse in 1925, standing isolated among the tracks and freight cars of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Entrance to the Blockhouse at Fort Pitt in 1942.
The entrance to the blockhouse in 1942 on Water Street. Visitors entered through the gate of the caretakers residence.

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