Powder Magazine Bicentennial and Ribbon Cutting

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Magazine Beach Park will celebrate the Bicentennial of its Powder Magazine, the oldest structure on the Charles River Basin, with a birthday party and ribbon cutting. The event will include music, salsa dancing, kite flying, children’s games (Knucklebones), an open house of the Magazine, a tour by local researcher Nina Cohen and, of course, birthday cake! The celebration will take place on Saturday, July 7, from 4:00-7:00 p.m.

Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Leo Roy will preside over an official ribbon cutting of the newly restored building at 5:00 p.m. The cake cutting will follow.

The Powder Magazine was built on Captain’s Island--a quarter mile from the town settlement--to store state, retail, and citizen gunpowder as well as that from docked ships. Due to the explosive nature of its contents, the Magazine needed to be remote, accessible by water, and on state-maintained Magazine Street, which went right to its door. To give it further protection, the building was originally surrounded by an 8-foot-high, 1-foot-wide brick wall, and assigned a powder “keeper,” an individual responsible for monitoring and managing the powder. By the 1860s, settlement had encroached on Captain’s Island and neighbors petitioned for the removal of the powder. After its removal a decade later, the building soon became a ruin. 

In 1899, the Olmsted Brothers (sons of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted) converted the granite magazine into a bathhouse for Charles River swimmers. At the same time, they created “Magazine Beach,” the most popular swimming beach along the Charles. The City of Cambridge created Magazine Beach with the intention that it be a vital element of a larger comprehensive river park system. Over 60,000 would swim there each summer during the early decades of the 20th century. After the beach was closed in 1949 due to water pollution, the Powder Magazine became a utility garage for the Metropolitan District Commission.

The Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association has since 2010 advocated for the restoration and activation of the Powderhouse Magazine, and were joined in their effort by the Magazine Beach Partners in 2017. Since 2011, the City of Cambridge has invested a combined $225,000 in CPA funds for the documentation, historical assessment, and renovation of the building. This money has been matched by the DCR through its Partnership Matching Funds Program.

The following are scheduled for the event:

4:00 - 5:00 p.m.  Salsa Dancing

4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Children's Games & Kite Flying

4:30 - 5:30 p.m.  Powder Magazine Open House

5:00 - 5:30 p.m.  Ribbon Cutting for Renovated Magazine

5:30 - 7:00 p.m.  Music by Trusting Fate

5:30 p.m.  Cake Cutting

6:00 p.m.  Historic Tour of Magazine

More information can be found at magazinebeach.org. The rain date will be Sunday, July 8. 

Page was posted on 7/2/2018 11:26 AM
Page was last modified on 2/7/2020 1:40 PM
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