Fort St. Philip is a
decommissioned masonry fort located on the eastern bank of
the Mississippi River, about 40 miles (64 km) up river from
its mouth in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. It formerly
served as military protection of New Orleans, Louisiana,
some 80 miles (130 km) up river, and the lower Mississippi.
The first fort on this location
"San Felipe", was constructed in the 18th century during the
Spanish control of Louisiana.
The fort served a role in
protecting the United States from the British invasion in
the War of 1812, seeing 9 days of battle in January 1815,
the 9th to the 18th. Specifically, an action against British
Navy vessels attempting to attack or bypass the fort.
The current fort was
constructed along with Fort Jackson on the river's western
bank as a coastal defense for New Orleans and the
Mississippi, on urging of Andrew Jackson. The fort was the
site of a twelve-day siege in April 1862 by the Union army
during the American Civil War.
It was declared a National
Historic Landmark in 1960.
In the 1930s the fort was
used as a tanning factory. This explains the old railroad
tracks and fire hydrants.
From 1978 through 1989 the
fort complex served as the site of an intentional,
nonsectarian spiritual community called
Velaashby, named by conjoining the surnames the original
and subsequent private property owners respectively. The
community members numbered as many as 16 at any one time and
were known as the Christos family. They lived in four
buildings--three two-story officers quarters and an officers
club--that remained from the re-fortification of the site
during the 1898 Spanish-American War.
Fort St. Philip remains
privately owned and in a state of bad deterioration. It was
heavily damaged in hurricanes Katrina and Rita. According to
the National Park Service, the owner reported that only the
original brick fort and the concrete structures from the
time of the Spanish-American War remain.
The site is accessible only
by boat or helicopter, and following erosion of the small
levee is now subject to flooding during high water levels of
the Mississippi River.