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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: MHT File Photo, Undated Photo
Shot Tower
Inventory No.: B-16
Other Name(s): Phoenix Shot Tower
Date Listed: 2/20/1972
Location: 800 E. Fayette Street & Front Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Structure
Period/Date of Construction: 1828
NHL Date: 11/11/1971
Description: The Baltimore Shot Tower is approximately 14 stories high and measures 40' in diameter at its base and 20' at the top. Crowned at the top by a concrete crenelated parapet, the walls themselves are 5 1/2' thick at the base and 20" thick at the top. There is a door at the bottom and the walls are pierced by windows at various intervals. More than 1,000,000 bricks were used in its construction, and no scaffolding was needed was needed, since all the work was done from the interior. In 1928 the tower was restored and a device installed which nightly illuminated its top with a reddish glow to represent smoke and fire. Significance: Known originally as the Phoenix Shot Tower, then the Merchants' Shot Tower, this building was erected in 1828 and its cornerstone laid by Charles Carroll of Carrollton. It is the last remaining of four such towers in Baltimore and one of a very few still in existence in this country. The tower was used for the manufacture of shot by dropping molten lead from a platform on top of the tower through a sieve-like device into a vat of cold water, which caused it to harden. When dried and polished, the shot was sorted into 25-pound bags. A total of one million bags of shot were produced per year, and this capacity could be doubled if necessary. In 1882 the interior of the tower was destroyed by fire, but quickly rebuilt and the manufacture of shot continued until 1892. Then in 1921 the Union Oil Company purchased the building, but decided to abandon it shortly thereafter. This caused a group of citizens to raise $25,000 by subscription and present it to the city.

 

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