Thursday, October 20, 2016

Amesbury's Powder House

After our short hike up to Powow Hill the other day, Jill told me that she knew of a location in the area that would be of interest to me. She brought me down Madison Street (in Amesbury, MA) and we parked in a parking lot to an apartment building just north of Monroe Street. We walked for about 500 feet (south) down the road and came to a set of stairs, a sign and a plaque on a rock on the east side of Madison Street. She had brought me to Amesbury's Powder House which I was definitely interested in checking out.

Amesbury's Powder House how it currently looks. It's been fenced off to keep people away from it's delicate condition before renovation occurs.

The stairs lead you up a high embankment on the side of Madison Street and dump you onto a trail heading up Brown's Hill. The trail heads east the whole way (all 0.1 miles of it) and dumps you at the summit where the Powder House resides. From the summit, there's another connecting trail heading north which will bring you to the Amesbury Country Club or to the Christopher Merchant Conservation Area via a public access easement.

Stair Access from Madison Street

Plaque and Sign at Stairs

It's worth noting that the summit of Brown's Hill used to be bare and one could see the ocean from the top...it's now completely wooded. Brown's Hill is actually the 3rd highest hill in Amesbury (over 180') and Amesbury's Powder House is only one of seven remaining in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

There's not a whole lot of information out there on Amesbury's Powder House. From what I gathered on Amesbury's Trails website (here), it is believed to be constructed around 1810 for the purpose to store gun powder and munitions during the War of 1812. It is a round masonry structure (as many powder houses in New England are) that is brick with some type of mortar over it.

It's current condition is pretty poor as it's been riddled with graffiti and has holes through the walls. It's my understanding that there has been efforts in the past to restore and repair the Powder House. There's actually an active effort to do so again right now. I think it's great that the town is recognizing this historical building as something that should be preserved within the town for future generations to appreciate.

The current condition is poor

Map vs. GPS

If you're interested in learning more on the restoration effort, I would encourage you to visit their Facebook page here.

The map for the Powder House trails and the surrounding trail network can be found here. I must warn you though; it was not laid out with north at the top...which is a huge pet peeve of mine!



  1. Hopefully, the town of Amesbury will be successful with their restoration of the historic power house on Brown's Hill.

    For several years, I lived not far from Eleutherian Mills on the Brandywine River in the State of Delaware. This was a gunpowder mill site from 1802 to 1921. Who knows, possibly some of the gunpowder manufactured there was shipped to Amesbury and stored at the powder house on Brown's Hill?!

    Thanks for taking time to share information and photos from your adventures.


    1. Hi Jon,

      It's interesting to think about all the different historical places and how they interacted and intertwined themselves throughout the years. I bet you're right that the product from the powder mill on the Brandywine River did hold up residence in the powder house in Amesbury through its commission! Cool stuff to think about!

      Thanks for reading!