The mansion, designed by architect Charles A. Alexander, was built in 1853-59 for Colonel John Goddard and was purchased in 1898 by Judge Joseph W. Symonds. In 1900, during the expansion of Fort Williams, it was acquired by the federal government and eventually converted it to quarters for noncommissioned officers.
At the time of the town’s purchase of the Fort in 1964, the mansion was already in serious disrepair. Robie M. Liscomb, executive director of the Urban Renewal Authority, estimated that it would cost $100,000 just to stabilize the building, with an additional $75,000 for restoration work.
By March of 1981, the Goddard mansion had deteriorated further. The Town Manager recommended to the Council that the attractive nuisance be razed immediately. After heated debate, the mansion received a 48-hour reprieve for further study. Ultimately, the Fire Department was asked to burn the interior of the structure to remove dangerous debris. The building remained open to the public until 2009, when fencing was installed to keep people out due to safety concerns. Initiatives surface periodically for restoration or creative reuse of the mansion, but none have yet been successful.
Adapted from Nancy Masterton’s 1990 document, “From Fort To Park.”
Historical Photos Courtesy of Ken Thompson