The City of Beverly was recently awarded a $55,000 grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s (MHC) Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF) to restore both the exterior and the interior of the Powder House. The Powder House is one of Beverly’s most unique historical structures, but has fallen into a state of disuse and is in need of rehabilitation efforts to preserve the structure. The structure’s full restoration will preserve an important piece of community history.
The Beverly Planning Department is managing the restoration project. Aaron Clausen, Beverly’s Planning Director, stated “Thank you to the Massachusetts Historical Commission for this funding to restore and preserve our historic Powder House. The Powder House was recently accepted for listing in the National Register of Historic Places – the nation’s official listing of significant historic resources – and we are excited to begin the rehabilitation of the structure.”
The Powder House was built in 1808 by Nathan Dane. Dane was a Harvard Law School graduate and Beverly lawyer. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and helped draft the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The Beverly Powder House was built on the then-undeveloped Powder House Hill following an 1805 ordinance that barred residents from keeping more than 25 pounds of gunpowder in their homes or businesses and the recognition that the previous powder house was located too close to residences and the town center. The powder house held a large amount of gunpowder because it was much safer than having residents store it in their homes. The Powder House is located on Prospect Hill (originally Powder House Hill) and is the second oldest municipal building still standing in Beverly after City Hall. The structure is 19 feet tall and is a unique octagonal shape with brick walls that measure four layers thick. The Powder House was put into use for the first time on April 16, 1808. It was eventually sold to the town of Beverly for thirty dollars.
Funding for the restoration of the historic Powder House comes from various sources. The Beverly Community Preservation Committee (CPC) awarded $102,500 to be allocated to construction and non-construction activities related to the restoration, including architectural plans and drawings and the National Register nomination. Beverly Crossing has committed $25,000 towards the project. Additionally, the Essex National Heritage Foundation has awarded the City of Beverly a $2,000 grant towards rehabilitating and preserving the historic structure. The total cost of the project is estimated at $173,000. The City of Beverly will be holding neighborhood meetings prior to the start of construction to ensure that residents are aware of the project and to address any potential concerns regarding the Powder House’s restoration.
“The City of Beverly is grateful to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Community Preservation Committee, Beverly Crossing and the Essex National Heritage Foundation for their generous funding to restore the historically significant Beverly Powder House. The structure is the second oldest in the City and we are committed to restoring it” said Mayor Michael Cahill.