Fort Standish was built was built just after the turn of the century as part of the Harbor Defenses of Boston—a series of forts and gun emplacements occupying nearly all of the present day Boston Harbor Islands. The defenses were upgraded frequently, but date all the way back to the Revolutionary War when Fort Independence was constructed by British colonialists on what is now known as Castle Island.
Fort Standish became an active military installation in 1907, and remained operational until 1947, as coastal gun emplacements were considered obsolete following World War II. The fort was protected by four M1900 10” artillery pieces, which had a range of nine miles. Several smaller guns were used to protect Boston Harbor’s defensive minefield and provide anti-aircraft cover.
Fort Standish once boasted sixty structures, but now the fort’s gun batteries are all that remain intact, along with a staircase leading up to the sky. The path along the east side of the island leads to this “stairway to nowhere.”
Know Before You Go
Lovells Island and Fort Standish are accessible by public ferry between mid June and early September. Ferries depart from Boston’s Long Wharf and stopover at Spectacle Island before heading to Lovells. There are also ferries leaving from Hingham Harbor that stopover at Bumpkin, Grape, Peddocks, and Georges Island before going to Lovells. Outside of summer, the island can only be reached by private watercraft.
The crumbling infrastructure at Fort Standish can be dangerous to amateur explorers, so tread lightly and don’t expect the handrails to protect you in a fall. It’s also advisable to carry a flashlight if you want to explore all the fort’s nooks and crannies.