Fort Ethan Allen


Date: Built 1861

Historic Designation:

Current Use of Property: Park and playground

Fort Ethan Allen was a military defense outpost built in 1861 to command all approaches to Chain Bridge south of Pimmit Run. The fort’s perimeter was 756 yards long and had emplacements for 39 guns. The fort was named for Ethan Allen, the commander of the Green Mountain Boys of the Revolutionary War. Most of the construction work on the Fort was completed by the 33rd New York Artillery.

When Federal troops seized Arlington Heights in May 1861, they proceeded to construct Forts Runyun, Corcoran, Albany and Scott for the protection of Washington. Following the defeat at Manassas (Bull Run) in late July, work began on Fort Ethan Allen, Fort Richardson and a line of breastworks and lunettes generally called the Arlington Line. The Arlington Line was never attacked, not even after the Federal defeat at Second Manassas, proving it to be an effective strategic defense system.

The fort sits on land that was originally owned by the Gilbert Vanderwerken family. It’s also the site of Madison School, a recreation and senior adult services center.

The Madison School was built on the site of the former Saegmuller School, next to Fort Ethan Allen. It was named for President James Madison, the fourth president, who served from 1809 to 1817. The school was acquired by the County in 1937 to expand its capacity. Both the land and the money for the original building were advanced to the County by George Saegmuller in 1890. This was also one of the first Works Progress Association (WPA) sites in Arlington.

More Information


3829 N. Stafford St., Arlington, VA 22207  View Map

Google Map