Friday, April 3, 2015

Powder House Amesbury Restoration & Preservation Effort

A Message from Tim Osgood Amesbury resident, teacher and avid preservationist Contact and Bartlett Museum is also on the board

As some of you may know the historic 1810 Powder House on Brown’s Hill (off Madison Street) was recently vandalized this past fall. Built for the storage of gunpowder before the War of 1812, this historic property is only 1 of 7 left remaining in the entire state. See In My Footsteps:Amesbury

Despite many attempts by the Amesbury Improvement Association to help preserve this building, keeping up with the frequent vandalism has proved to be a tough task.  Several residents volunteered their time and donated materials to temporarily secure the Powder House from further damage this winter. As we begin to thaw out, it is time to start thinking seriously about the future of this structure.  

The AIA has green-lighted the formation of a community group to assist in its restoration and putting into a place a plan for its future.  Whether you’re a history buff or someone who likes cool, old buildings, we would love if you could offer your thoughts, ideas, and expertise to this project.  If interested please message me on Facebook or e-mail me at – this will put you on the group list where a more formal meeting will be planned for the Spring. Thanks!"

Historic Powder House damaged by vandals The Powder House on Brown’s Hill in Amesbury has been vandalized again. It was built in 1810 and used to store powder and shot during the War of 1812.BRYAN EATON/Staff Photo

Article from Newburyport News written by Jim Sullivan

A beloved piece of Amesbury’s past has been the victim of vandals once again after the Powder House was found heavily damaged this week.
“It is like knocking over gravestones,” Amesbury Improvement Association president Anne Ferguson said. “It is like burning an historic home and I don’t know where that comes from.”
One of only seven left in the state, the Powder House is believed to have been built in 1810 to house arms, ammunition and gunpowder and was put to good use during the War of 1812.
Located at the top of the secluded Brown’s Hill at the corner of Monroe and Madison streets, the 13-foot-tall stucco and brick structure can be very attractive to those looking to escape prying eyes, as five-year Amesbury resident Tim Osgood discovered Monday afternoon when he was walking his dog and discovered damage and graffiti.
“It is pretty extensive from what I saw. I guess in the other times that it has been damaged, it wasn’t that bad. But it looks like someone really went at it this time,” Osgood said. “The damage is to the top, so someone really would have had to have been either incredibly tall or have used something to get to the top of the structure (which) looks like someone might have taken a sledgehammer to it.”
The damage that Ferguson said looks to have been done within the past month was not limited to the structure’s stucco exterior.The brick interior is damaged as well.
“You can see inside of it,” Osgood said. “Whoever did it obviously had malicious intent. Someone had a fun time. There are broken bottles and beer cans and there is a remnant of a fire up there.”
Osgood took pictures of the damage and posted it on social media soon after returning home Monday and Ferguson received a call from a friend alerting her later that evening.
“This is the second time is the last several years that we have had to pay for damage that is caused by vandals,” Ferguson said. “When we do our cleanups, the woods are filled with beer cans and that is not a recent thing. But that doesn’t make it right. I have never seen this much intentional damage done.”
A nonprofit, volunteer organization, the AIA was formed in 1886 with a mission to enhance the natural beauty of Amesbury and owns four historic properties: Alliance Park, Patten’s Pond Bird Reservation, the Golgotha Memorial and the Captain’s Well. It maintains four more, including the Powder House.
“I have been involved with those repairs for a long time,” Ferguson said. “The first three, four or five repairs were primarily skin coating, the mason work and painting. The last three repairs have been insignificant vandalism repairs. This repair will probably be at least $3,000 if not more. The last was over $1,000 and half was donated.”
Also a City Councilor at-Large, Ferguson has been a member of the AIA for the past 30 years and has been serving as president for the past six. She alerted the Amesbury Police Department of the situation yesterday; according to Lt. William Scholtz, an investigation is currently in the preliminary stages.
“Knowing the size of this, it would be very difficult to get on top,” Scholtz said. “I am not saying it is impossible, but it would be very difficult to get on top of it without a ladder.”
Scholtz also urged those with pertinent information to bring it to the police before posting on social media.
The AIA has handed out “Wanted” flyers within the Brown’s Hill neighborhood after past vandalism incidents, but nothing had ever come of it, said Ferguson. With the winter on the way and the top of the Powder House breached, whatever work that can be done must be done quickly.
“I am outraged that kids can have such little respect for something that is so historic,” Ferguson said. “The damage they are doing completely takes it away from future generations and we have worked so hard to keep it. I really wish we could find out who is responsible and make them realize what harm they are doing to the preservation of history in our community.”

1 comment:

  1. Love this - I will happily support whatever is in store - time, talent, treasure!