coast defense

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Fort Revere

In 1898, the federal government purchased some 347,748 sq. ft. of land in Hull for what was to become Fort Revere. The fort itself was named in 1900 amd transferred to the Army on January 26, 1901. In 1902, it was occupied by the 83rd Company of the Coast Artillery.

Battery Ripley, the two 12-inch M1888 guns at Fort Revere (see Slides 1 and 2 at left), was transferred to the Army in October, 1901. Along with the three similar guns of Battery Winthrop at Fort Heath in Winthrop, these were the most powerful weapons in the harbor defenses of Boston at that time. Together, Batteries Ripley and Winthrop were the "teeth" in the northern and southern "jaws" of the mouth of Boston Harbor. Jutting out into the water, their 15,000 yd. (8.6 mi.) range made it harder for any of the new generation of heavily-armed battleships to position themselves close offshore and shell Boston at will. Also in 1901, a pair of 5-inch guns was installed at Battery Field, on Battery Ripley's left flank. Within a few years, however, these guns were declared obselete, and in 1917 they were shipped off to Europe for use in WW1.

Fort Revere's firepower continued to grow, however. In 1906, a row of six positions for 6-inch guns M1903 on M1896 disappearing carriages was constructed, button-hooking around the slope below the tall water tower at the center of the fort. After several re-groupings, the first three (easternmost) of these guns were designated as Battery Pope and the remaining three (westernmost) as Battery Sanders. But after only a few years, Battery Pope's guns were also dismounted and shipped away to Europe for use in the Great War. Battery Sanders was left intact for another decade.

Unfortunately, the important role Fort Revere had been meant to play in Boston's defenses was soon curtailed by an unexpected force--the fury of its neighbors in Hull, who became increasingly upset with the reverberating blasts and destructive side effects from firing its guns. For example, the Boston Daily Globe of June 27, 1908 reported that practice firing from Battery Ripley had "demolished glass" and "knocked down plastering of cottages in different parts of town " around Hull. Several residents were reported to have been "prostrated." Shells from the 6-inch guns of Battery Sanders were noted to be passing directly over houses at Stony Beach, on the north shore of the fort. By 1910, complaints by residents and Congressmen to the War Department had become so numerous that the Globe was reporting that full service charges could no longer be used during practice firing. from the "residentially impacted" forts--Revere, Heath, and Banks. By February, 1911, the Globe noted that Ft. Revere was about to be reduced to the status of a sub-post of Ft. Andrews on Peddocks Island, and in 1919, the Coast Artillery all but discontinued using the fort. At that time he Globe reported that its guns had "not been fired since 1909."

By the outset of WW2, all of Fort Revere's major guns had been decommissioned. What remained was an anti-motor torpedo boat (AMTB) battery of four 90mm guns, Battery 941, which was newly constructed at the beginning of the war on the low shore of Stony Beach and meant to guard the channel. There were also three 3-inch anti-aircraft guns on the hill behind Battery Sanders and the mine observation station bunker in front of the old fire control building, overlooking Nantasket Roads. After the war, Batteries Ripley and Field were demolished and their land (along with the structures that used to surround them) turned into residential neighborhoods.

Today, Fort Revere is the most accessible of the nine original Boston Harbor forts from the Endicott Period, since it has been converted into a municipal park for the Town of Hull and is on the mainland. The gun platforms and magazines of the 6-inch batteries have been preserved and cleaned of accumulated trash, and the gun positions apparently make a fine skateboard park. The buildings of Officers Row have been preserved, with the Fort Commander's residence housing a small museum. A curiosity is the old fire control building near the water tower which has been re-used as a private home, with its distinctive observation slits converted into large picture windows overlooking Nantasket Roads.. The old mine observation station also survives, farther downslope.

Fort Revere

  • Ft. Revere Aerial View, c.1924
    This undated U.S. Army photo, from NARA via CDSG, shows Ft. Revere c. 1924, looking northwesterly. The two 12-inch guns of Btty Ripley are at top left, with the abandoned 5-inch Btty Field on its western flank. The three 6-inch guns of Btty Sanders are at right center, with the discontinued Btty Pope on its east and southern flank. The large water tower rises at center, with various fire control structures just downslope to its northeast. West of the tower is Officers Row, with various barracks and other buildings northwest from there. The other major barracks and admin buildings of the fort are located southeast of Btty Ripley. The three small buildings adjoining the gun platforms of Btty Sanders are dormitory quarters for the gun crews, an arrangement not seen at other Boston forts. Note also the small tower just behind Btty Pope, Gun 2, which may be a Battery Commander's station. The little snub-nosed, bi-level fire control tower behind Btty Riley, Gun 1 was apparently being used at this time as the Artillery Engineer's office. The houses to the left and bottom in the photo were private homes, explaining why local residents protested vigorously when Ft. Revere held live fire training. (Cropped and adjusted by
  • Map of Fort Revere, 1921
    This map, by the U.S. Engineers, is from NARA, via CDSG. It identifies many of the buildings that can be seen in the aerial photo in Slide 1. (The copy distributed by CDSG was light and had a number of "bald spots.". This copy has been cropped and adjusted by