Haunting drone footage of an abandoned castle in the woods, known as the Savannah Powder Magazine!
This Abandoned Castle has a History You May NOT Expect!
If you wanted to blow something up about a century and a quarter ago, you’d head down Ogeechee Road to a path in the woods (between modern day Lumber Liquidators and Sonic) where the Savannah Powder Magazine must yearn for young boys with stick rifles to duck behind her windows and leap from her battlements. “Let’s build a moat,” you can hear them scheme, while wielding spoons and shovels around the small castle said to be Chatham County’s sturdiest building. With her three-foot walls and rock and steel-reinforced roof, the medieval-looking structure has stood down hurricanes and eight-year-olds since 1898. “1898?” you say. “But wasn’t that the year of the Spanish American War, the year that 13,000 troops camped out in Forsyth Park en route to engage the Spanish in Cuba?” Hence the plausible need on the outskirts of Savannah for ammunition storage.
I thought so too, but a text to Powder Magazine impresario Tommy Holland spoiled the romance of southern knights in armor ready to do battle with the invading Europeans. “It’s a municipal powder magazine as opposed to a military magazine,” Holland wrote. “Built for the City, by the City, to store explosives that were used for construction and farming at that time.”
Doubtless a prosperous business through the early part of the 20th century, but in the 1960s, the blowing-things-to-smithereens business dried up and the magazine was abandoned. Some, including Holland, have argued for its restoration.
That’s one option, but rather than having another stuffy monument in the decidedly un-touristy environs of Ogeechee Road, perhaps we’d be better off turning it over to eight-year-old boys and girls armed with a little history and a lot of imagination.
Just a few weeks ago “The Savannah Powder Magazine” Facebook page posted an update on the restoration process of this amazing building saying that
A group from Historic Savannah Foundation came to the site and picked up the last of the trash and debris out of the Magazine, leaving it broom clean. They also removed the trash that had been dumped in the woods near the building, picked up the metal door that had been on the ground moved inside to the building and secured the entrances so nobody can tamper with or deface the building before the restoration process takes place.
SAVANNAH, GA – December 20, 2018 – Historic Savannah Foundation (HSF) has been awarded a $2,500 grant from the National Trust Preservation Fund to kickstart the restoration of the City of Savannah’s Powder Magazine. The Powder Magazine was designed by famous Savannah architects Alfred S. Eichberg and Hyman Witcover and commissioned by Mayor P.W. Meldrim. Local mason, John Eason, completed the gothic-style structure in November 1898. and it was used to store explosive powder, artillery ammunition, and eventually dynamite. The Savannah Powder Magazine was closed in 1963, due to the expense of operation and lack of funding, and has remained abandoned ever since.
This is the only municipal powder magazine still in existence in Georgia. HSF’s collaboration with the City of Savannah and the Friends of the Powder Magazine led to a successful grant application which will help pay for a conditions assessment that will guide the restoration of the City of Savannah’s Powder Magazine. “This was a highly competitive grant round, and we are honored to have been selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It means that this project has national significance and its preservation be another feather in Savannah’s hat,” said Daniel Carey, President and CEO of HSF. “We will be appealing for matching funds to proceed with restoration efforts, but this is an important and positive first step,” he concluded.
HSF saves buildings, places and stories that define Savannah’s past, present, and future. Following its formation in 1955, HSF started a Revolving Fund to save endangered historic properties. To date, HS has saved and protected more than 370 buildings throughout Savannah’s historic districts. HSF demonstrates the cultural, social and economic benefits of preservation as good public policy by proving that preservation and progress go hand-in-hand. For more information about HSF, please visit www.myHSF.org or call 912-233-7787.
Abandoned Castle in the woods.
Photos Courtesy: Danielle Houston
Sources: New Georgia Encyclopedia & Abandoned Southeast; “The Savannah Powder Magazine” Facebook page.