Powder Magazine

1703 –

The Powder Magazine was built on the northern edge of the walled city by 1713. Currently located at 21 Cumberland Street, it is considered to be the oldest surviving secular building in the Carolinas.

(Charleston). In 1703 the colonial assembly authorized the construction of a storehouse for gunpowder as part of the defenses of Charleston. The Powder Magazine was built on the northern edge of the walled city by 1713. Currently located at 21 Cumberland Street, it is considered to be the oldest surviving secular building in the Carolinas. The one-story brick structure has a pyramidal tile roof with cross gables and a single room measuring approximately twenty-seven feet square. The walls are thirty-six inches thick. Proprietary governor Nathaniel Johnson most likely oversaw its construction. Although replaced by a new magazine in 1748, it continued to be used for powder storage through the Revolutionary War. After 1820 the building reverted to the Izard and Manigault families, the owners of the property before 1703, who used it variously as a livery stable, a printing shop, and a wine cellar. The National Society of the Colonial Dames in South Carolina purchased the building in 1902 to save it from demolition and turned it into a museum. In 1993 Historic Charleston Foundation obtained a long-term lease from the Colonial Dames, restored the building to its mid-nineteenth-century appearance, and reopened it as a museum of early Charleston history. The Powder Magazine was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1989.

Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Weyeneth, Robert R. Historic Preservation for a Living City: Historic Charleston Foundation, 1947–1997. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Powder Magazine
  • Coverage 1703 –
  • Author
  • Keywords colonial assembly authorized the construction of a storehouse for gunpowder as part of the defenses of Charleston, Currently located at 21 Cumberland Street, it is considered to be the oldest surviving secular building in the Carolinas, National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1989
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date December 6, 2022
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2022
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