Watertown Arsenal

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Watertown Arsenal (1816-1995) - First established in 1816 by the U.S. Army in Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Arsenal functions ceased in 1968, the U.S. Army abandoned the facility in 1995.

Watertown Arsenal Commanding Officers Quarters Today
Watertown Arsenal Main Office Building
Watertown Arsenal Commanding Officer's Quarters Bldg 111


Originally built as an ordnance depot and small arms factory to replace the Charlestown Arsenal which was taken over by the Navy. Use of the facility expanded to include the manufacture of artillery carriages by 1835.

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

Watertown Arsenal Cannons at the Entrance to Bldg. 311

The Arsenal expanded during the U.S. Civil War to meet the demand for large numbers of field and coastal gun carriages. Additional shops were built to support the manufacture of carriages and other items necessary for the war effort. The post expanded to accommodate the larger number of military officers and enlisted men stationed at the Arsenal.

Captain Thomas J. Rodman, inventor of the Rodman Gun, was assigned as commander of the Arsenal during the U.S. Civil War. He was heavily criticized for the construction of one of the largest commanding officer's quarters in the U.S. Army at the Arsenal. The three-story, 12,700 square foot, the brick mansion is virtually the same as it was in Rodman's day and was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places on 30 Jan 1976.

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

During the Endicott Period the Arsenal expanded into a manufacturing center for the increasingly complex coastal gun carriages of the period. The expansion included 44 more acres of land, several new buildings and a hospital.

World War I (1917-1918)

Watertown Arsenal Building 311

The Arsenal again expanded during World War I to almost three times its pre-war size. The size of gun carriages grew to accommodate larger caliber weapons and the facilities expanded to meet the needs of the overseas war for mobile and railroad gun mounts. Building 311 at the Arsenal was reported to be one of the largest steel frame buildings of the time.

World War II (1941-1945)

The Arsenal again expanded during World War II and began the manufacture of steel artillery weapons. Seven acres of land were added to the reservation.

Arsenal functions ceased in 1968 and part of the reservation was sold to civilian interests. The U.S. Army abandoned the rest of the facility in 1995.

Watertown Commanding Officers thru World War II.

Current Status

The former Arsenal grounds now house Arsenal Mall, Arsenal Park, Harvard University offices and apartment complexes, a commercial office park and retail shops. The grand Commander's Mansion is for hire for weddings, special events and meetings.

Location: Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Maps & Images

Lat: 42.362222 Long: -71.166111



Visited: 26 May 2012

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