Open House New York
The South Battery was built as one of Governors Island’s key fortifications for the war of 1812, alongside the Construction of Castle Williams, and consists of masonry construction within the sandstone walls. This structure contributes to the Governors Island Historic District.
From 1836 until 1878, the fortification became home to the Army Music School of Practice and during the Great Depression the WPA (Works Progress Administration) rebuilt the large room on the second floor, Corbin Hall, turning into a grand ball room.
As part of the dedication of Corbin Hall, a bronze portrait plaque was hung on the wall of the main ballroom, a work of artist Evelyn Longman Batchelder. Batchelder was a renowned sculptor in the early 20th-century and the first woman granted full membership to the National Academy of Design. Mentored by Daniel French, she would often work with him on his major projects, including the Lincoln Memorial.
From 1939 on it was used as an Officers Club by the US Army and then the US Coast Guard. It has been vacant and unused since the Coast Guard departed the Island in 1996.
Image credit: Timothy Schenck for the Trust for Governors Island
Visitors will enter a historic building that is unfinished. Hard-soled, comfortable shoes are recommended.
Castle Williams, Governors Island National Monument
Architect: Lt Col Jonathan Williams, 1811
Tour info: All tours are Ranger or NPS volunteer lead. The courtyard and lower casemates are open for drop-in visits. 30-minute guided tours of the upper level and interiors will take place at 10:30, 11:30am, 1:30 and 3:30pm.
Since the first OHNY Weekend in 2003, Governors Island National Monument is one of almost 50 that have participated for 10 or more years. When you visit, please thank them for championing an open city!
Image Credit: Michael Shaver, NPS