SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

December 13, 2013

Book Notes: Author chronicles powder houses across New England

Powder houses, where Colonial towns stored their supplies of gunpowder, were usually built far from the center of town.

“The reason a lot of towns built powder houses on hilltops or out-of-the-way locations was so, in case they did blow up, they would cause minimal damage,” said Matthew Thomas of Fremont, N.H., who recently published “Historic Powder Houses of New England: Arsenals of American Independence.”

“For many years a lot of these powder houses suffered from severe neglect,” Thomas said. “But in the last 15 or 20 years there has been an appreciation by local communities to restore and repair their old powder houses.”

Powder houses were built to supply militias, which were organized to fight Native Americans and then to combat enemies in the French and Indian War, Thomas said. They were also constructed during the build-up to the Revolution, and were still being built during the War of 1812.

British forces attempted to seize gunpowder in Somerville on Sept. 1, 1774, which set off “a powder alarm” among colonists, as did a similar British action that same year in New Castle, N.H.

When the redcoats went to Concord in April of 1775, it was to seize the contents of a powder house.

Thomas has found that 201 of these structures were built in New England, with the earliest erected in Salem in 1637, the first of three constructed in the Witch City. None of Salem's remain, which is also true of powder houses that once stood in Peabody, Ipswich, Middleton and Topsfield.

But Beverly’s eight-sided house, built in 1808 by Nathan Dane, still stands on Prospect Hill.

“The 205-year-old building has deteriorated and is in serious need of repair,” Thomas writes.

Marblehead’s cone-roofed house, built in 1755 and now standing at the corner of Green and Lincoln streets, is the oldest structure still standing that was built as a powder house. Somerville’s dates to 1703 or 1704, and is a converted grist mill.

Thomas will speak at the Beverly Historical Society on March 15 at 2 p.m.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Lifestyle
  • Dear Abby: Married couple’s sex life is all about the numbers Dear Abby: I have been married to a wonderful man for 30 years. Our marriage may not be perfect, but it's quite good. My dilemma is this: My husband keeps track of every time we have sex and has a personal goal of 100 times a year. In 2013, he infor

    April 23, 2014

  • Wednesday's Best Bets Best Bets for Wednesday, April 23

    Looking for something to do today? Here are The Salem News' Best Bets:

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dear Abby: Don't meddle in office affair unless it interferes with work

    Dear Abby: I manage a group of 15 employees. A few months ago, I hired the wife of an old friend. Until now she has been a great employee, but recently, she and a male co-worker have been taking lunches and breaks together in a way that leads me to b

    April 22, 2014

  • Dick and Jane Auction [Duplicate] 'Dick and Jane' artworks for sale BROOKLINE, N.H. (AP) -- In the portrait, the little boy's blue eyes twinkle as he looks straight ahead. His apple cheeks shine. There's a gap in his teeth, and his reddish-brown hair is just slightly tousled. He's an All-American boy. He's Dick, of t

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tuesday's Best Bets Best Bets for Tuesday, April 22

    Looking for something to do today? Here are The Salem News' Best Bets:

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'Captain America' tops box office for third week LOS ANGELES -- Captain America continues to vanquish box office foes, triumphing in ticket sales for the third consecutive week and dominating over megastar Johnny Depp's new movie. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" added another $26 million to i

    April 21, 2014

  • Monday's Best Bets Best Bets for Monday, April 21

    Looking for something to do today? Here are The Salem News' Best Bets:

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • North Shore religion calendar Saturday, April 19 Easter Bunny Breakfast & Egg Hunt, 10 a.m. to noon, Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church, 323 Locust St., Danvers. The youth groups of Northshore and Beverly Unitarian Universalist churches will hold an Easter breakfast and egg

    April 19, 2014

  • North Shore religion news in brief The Rev. Marya DeCarlen has been named the new, full-time priest in charge at All Saints Episcopal Church of the North Shore in Danvers. DeCarlen's ministry with the parish begins Sunday, April 27. Her appointment comes after the church's yearlong in

    April 19, 2014

  • Dear Abby: Teenage girl’s boyish figure is often deceiving to others Dear Abby: I'm a 14-year-old girl with a problem. Because of my buzzed short hair, slim hips and flat chest, I frequently get mistaken for a boy. It really bothers me because, despite my haircut and body shape, I have a feminine face and I wear women

    April 19, 2014

NDN Video
Comments Tracker