Haverhill’s Historic Powder House to Receive Designation on National Register of Historic Places

A pre-1883 view of the powder house with front door missing and graffiti visible inside. Derived from a stereoscopic photograph, probably circa 1860s or 1870s. (Courtesy of the Trustees of the Haverhill Public Library, Special Collections Department.)

A postcard view of the powder house after entrance was bricked.

Haverhill’s Historic Powder House on Golden Hill has been approved as a national historic site.

Members of the Haverhill Historic Commission received the news Wednesday night from Community Development Director Andrew K. Herlihy. The 1845-era powder house was the last of four buildings, designed to hold gunpowder, to be erected in the community. Herlihy said the powder house is in “dire need of repair.” However, he warned, restoration cannot begin until the city has a handle on the best approach. He outlined the questions that need to be asked.

“What do we do? If we touch the roof, is it going to collapse? Do you need to deal with the brick first? Can we reopen the door? Does it help or hurt? There are a couple of different structures. Do we put mortar on the building?”

To help determine the best approach, civil engineer Paul A. Bergman will assess the structure. The National Register of Historic Places designation will help the city obtain outside grants to restore the cylindrical brick building. Haverhill has already received a $10,000 grant from the Methuen Festival of Trees to begin work.

According to preservation consultant Lisa Mausolf, the cone-shaped structure was already vacant and in disrepair by the 1860s. In 1883, its front entrance was removed and sealed with brick. Once standing by itself, it is now located within a last 20th century housing subdivision.

Certain paperwork needs to be completed to finish listing the property.

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