Dedham Powder House – Dedham, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

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Dedham Powder House

This building is more than 250 years old and was built in one of the first towns settled in Massachusetts. 


In a town dotted with magnificent old homes, a National Historic Landmark county courthouse, and the oldest timber-frame house in North America—the most noteworthy structure may be one not much larger than the privies in use when it was built prior to the Revolutionary War.

The Dedham Powder House was constructed in 1766 for the town by a group of men including Captain David Fuller and Deacon Nathaniel Kingsbury. Made of brick and lime mortar, the small, sturdy structure measures eight feet square on the outside, and six feet high on the inside. The diminutive building stands on land owned by the local historical society, but the structure is owned by the Town of Dedham.

Dedham was established in 1635 by order of the General Court and incorporated a year later. It is one of the oldest towns in the Commonwealth. Previously, the town’s munitions and gunpowder had been stored in the rafters of a church. With a history of conflicts with Native American groups, as well as anti-tax riots protesting British rule, colonists needed secure places to stash weapons and the Powder House was constructed. 

Located just outside the town center, the Powder House’s hipped roof rises on a small hill overlooking the Charles River. From the little brick building, visitors can see the spot along the river where the first settlers of Dedham landed in 1636.

Know Before You Go

Pleasant Street is private. Parking is available at the nearby Dedham Community House pool parking lot or the adjacent boat landing area. The stairs up to the powder house from Ames Street may be overgrown. You might even spot a turkey.

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