Powder Magazine (Charleston, South Carolina)

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Powder Magazine
Powder Magazine (Charleston, South Carolina) is located in South Carolina
Powder Magazine (Charleston, South Carolina)
Powder Magazine (Charleston, South Carolina) is located in the United States
Powder Magazine (Charleston, South Carolina)
Location79 Cumberland St.,
Charleston, South Carolina
Coordinates32°46′46″N 79°55′48″W / 32.77944°N 79.93000°W / 32.77944; -79.93000Coordinates: 32°46′46″N 79°55′48″W / 32.77944°N 79.93000°W / 32.77944; -79.93000
Arealess than one acre
Architectural styleColonial
Part ofCharleston Historic District (ID66000964)
NRHP reference No.72001200[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 5, 1972[1]
Designated NHLSeptember 27, 1989[2]
Designated NHLDCPOctober 9, 1960

The Powder Magazine is a gunpowder magazine and museum at 79 Cumberland Street in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Completed in 1713, it is the oldest surviving public building in the former Province of Carolina. It was used as a gunpowder store through the American Revolutionary War, and later saw other uses.[3] The Powder Magazine was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989.[2] It has been operated as a museum by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America since the early 1900s. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972.[1]

Description and history[edit]

The Charleston Powder Magazine is located in the historic center of Charleston, on the south side of Cumberland Street, between Church and Meeting Streets. It is a single-story square structured, with stuccoed brick walls 32 inches (81 cm) thick, and an original red tile roof that is pyramidal with intersecting gables.[3] Each wall of the building boasts a large arch. The walls get thinner as they reach the top of the arch, changing from three feet thick, near the ground, to just a few inches thick near the top. There are also few doors in the building, so that in the event of an explosion, most of the explosive force would exit through the roof, with the arches acting like funnels. Sand stored in the roof would then smother and put out the fire.

Construction of the building was authorized by the Province of Carolina in 1703, during Queen Anne's War, as part of a series of fortifications, but it was not completed until 1713. It was used as a powder magazine until late in the American Revolutionary War, after which it saw a variety of other uses, including as a wine cellar for Gabriel Manigault.[3] The local chapter of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America acquired the building in 1902, and now operates it as a museum, which includes historic artifacts and displays about the building during the Colonial and American Revolution periods.

See also[edit]


  • "Powder Magazine, Charleston County (79 Cumberland St., Charleston)". National Register Properties in South Carolina listing. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  1. ^ a b c "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Powder Magazine". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  3. ^ a b c Fant, Mrs. James W. (1971). "Powder Magazine" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. National Park Service. Retrieved 25 May 2012.

External links[edit]