Cambridge’s Historic Powder Magazine

We recently visited the Powder Magazine at Magazine Beach in Cambridge, where we restored the interior in 2018. It’s nice to see this beautiful, historic space being used by Mass Audubon.

Originally constructed in 1818, the Magazine is the oldest standing building in the Charles River Basin.  First built to store gunpowder for public and private use, the walls were solid granite blocks and the roof wooden, slate, and specially-arched brick. In 1818, the Powder Magazine was located on what was known as Captain’s Island as a protective measure. As Cambridge’s population exploded in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Charles River and its tidal marshes were filled in to make room for development.  Eventually, the island was incorporated into the expanded Cambridgeport neighborhood.

The Powder Magazine was next converted into a bath house for swimmers using the beach at Magazine Beach Park. After swimming in the Charles River ceased in 1949, the bath house was abandoned and fell into disrepair. It was our pleasure to help bring it back to life. We received a 2022 Cambridge Historical Commission Preservation Award for the project.