Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

June 09, 2023

Angela Berti (716) 278-1764 |

New Roof Completed at French Castle at Old Fort Niagara State Historic Site

Yellow cedar roof aids in preservation of 1726 building

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation along with Old Fort Niagara Association today revealed a new roof on the iconic French Castle, one of the oldest buildings on the Great Lakes. The Castle is the oldest building on the Great Lakes The French Castle was built in 1726 and is the oldest building in North America situated between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. The $1.3 million project included the replacement of the yellow cedar roof at the French Castle and the adjacent attached restroom building.

"A core part of our mission at New York State Parks is to protect and preserve the history of our state and there may be no other site as important as Old Fort Niagara. It is always an honor and privilege to partner with the Old Fort Niagara Association to work on important projects like this one," said Mark V. Mistretta, Niagara Region Director.

"We are grateful to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for prioritizing this project. Almost a century ago, local leaders formed the Old Fort Niagara Association to save the French Castle from almost certain ruin. That tradition of stewardship continues today as our good friends at State Parks work to ensure that the fort's historic buildings are preserved for future generations," said Robert Emerson, Executive Director of Old Fort Niagara.

Associated work includes masonry repair and repointing of all chimneys and installation of new chimney caps. The last roof on the French Castle was installed in the 1990s. This project was performed by ICC Commonwealth of Buffalo and completes the first phase of a project to restore three buildings at Old Fort Niagara. The next phase of work will involve masonry restoration on the French Castle and the North (1771) and South (1770) Redoubts. Funding for the projects comes from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the National Park Service (Department of the Interior), Parks & Trails New York and the Niagara River Greenway.

"Throughout the history of our nation, Fort Niagara has gone from a critical military installation, that has been on the frontlines of our nation's wars, to an important historical landmark that continues to serve as an educational resource for Western New Yorkers and tourists from around the world. By restoring the iconic French Castle, New York State and the Old Fort Niagara Association are pledging to preserving the story of our past for future generations, and we are proud to continue sharing our region's key contributions to the development of the United States of America," said New York State Sen. Robert Ortt.

"I thank Governor Hochul and NYS Parks for their steadfast support of this incredibly important place. Old Ft. Niagara is a national treasure that must be preserved, and this project does just that," said New York State Assemblyman Angelo Morinello.

The French Castle was constructed by the French between June of 1726 and October of 1727 and was designed to accommodate about 40 soldiers and 3-4 officers.

The Castle withstood artillery bombardment in July 1759, when British forces besieged the fort. During the War of 1812, American soldiers removed the roof from the building to use the upper floor as an elevated gun deck for action against nearby Fort George. The roof was replaced in 1816.

Following the Civil War, the United States Army moved out of the old fort and established a more modern military base in what is now Fort Niagara State Park. Still, the Castle was used to house civilian employees through World War One. By the 1920s however, the building was abandoned and began to deteriorate. Fearing the loss of this historic treasure, local citizens formed the Old Fort Niagara Association in 1927. Two years later, efforts began to restore the building to its 18th century appearance. Restoration of the fort was completed by 1934 and the site was opened as a public museum.

Old Fort Niagara welcomes about 100,000 visitors each year from all over the world. The site consists of 22 acres of original 18th century buildings and fortifications. Visitors take part in daily living history programs and the fort offers many special events throughout the year.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which in 2022 were visited by record 79.5 million people.  For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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