Located about one mile west of Amsterdam, New York, Old Fort Johnson is one of America's most important historical buildings and small British fortress sites. It was home to William Johnson, the former Superintendent General of Indian Affairs and last Baronet of New York, during the French and Indian War (1754-1760). The fort is situated about 30 feet above the Mohawk Valley, and has an overall elevation of about 300 feet above sea level.
In 1739, Johnson bought the land where Fort Johnson was built. In 1749, the present stone house (Johnson’s third valley house) was constructed and called Mount Johnson.
Johnson moved into his new building in 1750. During the war, Mount Johnson was palisaded, and henceforth called Fort Johnson. As it was one of the most strategically important British-American army posts of the period, the fort figured in many of the British-American army movements up the Mohawk Valley against Canada.
The fort was purchased by General J. Watts de Peyster in 1905 and presented to the Montgomery County Historical Society, the present owner and maintainer.
Old Fort Johnson is now a historical museum, where visitors can steep themselves in the social, cultural, military, and industrial past of the Mohawk Valley. The furniture and wall hangings of the fort have been maintained as true to the period as possible.
One interesting historical note is that George Washington visited here during his tour through the valley at the end of the War of Independence.
The fort features an 18th-century privy, one of only a handful of similar buildings still remaining in the United States. The high-styled structure features an “ogee"* roof and interior paneling that matches paneling inside the fort.
The gift shop, in the Visitor Center at the rear of the premises, features crafts by Mohawk Valley artists, a variety of locally made items, and a small selection of local history books and old maps.
The stone portion of the building, initially the carriage barn, is said to be built in the 1770s. Its upper story was appended in the early 1900s, after the historical society adopted the property.
*A double curve, resembling the letter S, formed by the union of a concave and a convex line.