Monument City Blog

Branches of Baltimore History

Phoenix Shot Tower

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Location: E Fayette Street & N Front Street

When completed in 1828, the Phoenix Shot Tower was the tallest free-standing structure in the United States. Designed to make ammunition for pistols, rifles and cannons, molten lead was dropped from the top of the tower into cold water at the bottom, forming a round “shot” in the process. Rendered obsolete in 1892, the building was almost razed for a gas station until local residents pitched in to save it. In 1971 the Phoenix Shot Tower was designated a National Historic Landmark. Carroll Museums, Inc. maintains the tower today, offering guided weekend tours by appointment.

On September 22, 1878 the Merchants’ Shot Tower (as it was then known) was devastated by fire. The building’s interior was completely burned out and 15 tons of lead fell from the tower’s peak to the ground floor. Flames could be seen pluming out of its top like a torch. No one was injured in the event and the tower’s brick shell was salvaged.

Written by monumentcity

July 7th, 2009 at 7:03 am