Somerville’s Powderhouse Mill

By Skip Murray 

This past Thursday early evening, June 1, two Somerville Historic docents, Alejandra Dean and Lawrence Willwerth, were on hand at Somerville’s historic 1704 Powderhouse Mill, to tell its story and stories surrounding it. 

Originally a windmill, it is most importantly known in American history as the place British soldiers, under General Thomas Gage, absconded with the gunpowder stored inside of it, denying colonists access to it.

Can’t blame general Gage, with the colonists getting more and more rowdy daily, he had good reason to be concerned. The colonists did not trust him or the British government. In fact, they expected a confrontation between themselves and the British soldiers any day, and were ready to act. Needless to say, for this reason, Gage feared the munitions in the hands of the colonists. So, on the morning of September 1, 1774, under his orders, British troops confiscated 250 barrels of gunpowder out of the mill. The colonists could do nothing but stand by and watch as the gunpowder was removed right before their helpless eyes. Not helpless for long, however. This action by the British showed the colonists the dire need of having a way to respond to immediately respond to British actions such as this. Thus, the Minutemen were conceived. Had not his incident taken place, there would have been no ride by Paul Revere and William Dawes, along with approximately forty others, warning the countryside of the British regulars moving toward Lexington and Concord. That being the case, what might American history look like today?
 
One of the visitors with the docents last evening was seven year old Eliot McCarthy, who brought along with herself lots of her own knowledge about local history, as well as a large amount of enthusiasm.

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