The Fort Plain Museum began operation in 1961 as the Fort Plain Restoration with an emphasis on rebuilding Revolutionary War Fort Plain.
The Museum is located in the Village of Fort Plain and Town of Minden. The village of Fort Plain was originally named after the fort, an important military outpost in the Revolutionary War.
At that time the museum began archaeological field work on the Fort Plain hilltop, unearthing 18th century period artifacts relating to the fort’s history. On April 26, 1963 the museum received a “Provisional Charter” from the State of New York and a designation as a 501C3 not-for-profit educational institution. Archaeology continued in 1964 as additional sites relating to colonial Fort Plain/Fort Rensselaer were unearthed. In 1968 the organization received an “Absolute Charter” from the University of the State of New York Making the institution a permanent member of the museum community. Archaeological investigation and research continued in 1975 under the auspices of Wayne Lenig who excavated the site of the original fort’s stockade. The exploration uncovered barracks buildings, a dining hall, officer’s quarters, a small blockhouse and sentry posts.
During the 1980’s and 90’s the museum has developed exhibits on the different eras of history of the village of Fort Plain.
Currently the museum’s exhibits span the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries covering such topics as the Mohawk and Oneida Indians, German Palatines of the Mohawk, Victorian Era in the valley and the Erie Canal. Recently the Board of Directors decided the museum should refocus its efforts on the original colonial Fort Plain/Fort Rensselaer story. Research is again underway focusing on the fort’s role in American history as the defender of the Mohawk Valley.
The museum property encompasses a park of approximately 75 acres and contains the following site and features:
- Site of Revolutionary War Fort Plain/ Fort Rensselaer
- Stone farm house of David Lipe built in 1848
- Excavated site of a 3 story square blockhouse
- ¾ mile of original Otsquago Trail Road
- Foundation of Revolutionary War era bridge
- Freshwater spring originally described as water supply to the fort
- Site central cook house on fort hill
- Site of blacksmith shop which served the fort
- Site of Fort Rensselaer Redoubt & Crown works
- Remains of earthen trench works originally dug for defense of the hilltop
- Site of two settlers’ cabins near the Otsquago Trail Road
- Reconstructed farm house of Johannes Lipe ca. 1780
- Mill dam ca. 1860
In 2009 the museum débuted new indoor and outdoor exhibits on Fort Plain’s role in the Revolutionary War and the defense of the Mohawk Valley.