The historic Fort Gratiot was built in 1814 along the St. Clair River as a strategic military reservation, charged to defend the St. Clair River and Lake Huron in the War of 1812. The original fort was on the location that is now the Thomas Edison Parkway and greenway, and included parcels to the south and west. It also served as a training facility for soldiers destined to fight the Civil War, with several of its regiments going on to serve with distinction. Fort Gratiot was significant as a landmark for the westward expansion of the American frontier. In 1829-30, the fort was rebuilt with timber-framed structures, including the officers quarters and the hospital building. These structures were moved several times within the confines of the fort boundaries, finally resting in the western corner of the reservation. When the fort was abandoned in 1879, the structure was split into two separate residences, and moved to what is now St. Clair Street, immediately behind (west) of the current Blue Water Convention Center/Hilton property.
In the 1970 – 80’s, exhaustive research, digs and archaeological studies were done on the site of Fort Gratiot, and it was determined that the two structures were authentic and were once a single structure. In 2000-02, the Port Huron Museum acquired both homes and moved them to a lot in LighthousePark, owned by the City of Port Huron. They were aligned side-by-side in a stockade fenced lot, awaiting funds and opportunity. In 2012, a group dedicated to the restoration of the oldest wooden structure in St. Clair County, began to restore in phases, as funding became available. They pledged to create a significant tribute to our military, medical and community heritage, and work is ongoing. Future plans are to create a medical/military museum honoring the fort, the physicians and the soldiers that served here from 1814-1879, including troops deployed from here for the Civil War. As funding becomes available, the next steps include, cedar siding, doors and windows. Additional work will be done this fall.
The Fort Gratiot Hospital has come a long way! In the past 3 years, the Fort Gratiot Hospital Heritage Committee has put in a lot of time and effort to have the outside of the building almost completely renovated. In 2016, exact duplicates of the original front and back porches and shutters were added, making it possible for the committee to turn its focus and begin the interpretation of the inside. 2017 looks like a great year to be a part of the rejuvenation of this historic building!