BNHA Phoenix Shot Tower
National Historic Landmark
National Register of Historic Places
Seeking Prosperity on the Chesapeake: Baltimore History from Colonial Times through the 1800s
Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century
Points of Interest
801 E Fayette St
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
The imposing Phoenix Shot Tower is the last and only remaining of three shot-making towers that accented the Baltimore skyline in the 19th century. The tower was built in 1828 by the Phoenix Shot Tower Company using 1.1 million bricks. Charles Carroll, whose winter townhouse was just a block south, laid the cornerstone. The structure was built in six months using no scaffolding.
The Shot Tower was used to make buckshot for shotguns used in hunting. Molten lead was dropped from the top of the tower through a sieve-like device. As the lead fell, it formed perfect round balls. Water in a vat at the bottom of the tower caught and cooled the shot. When hardened, dried, and polished, the shot was packed in 25 pound bags. The tower produced as many as 500,000 25-pound bags of shot a year and was one of the largest suppliers in the nation.
When threatened with demolition, a group of civic-minded citizens bought the tower in 1921 and presented it to the city for preservation. It was converted into a museum in 1977 and forms the centerpiece of Shot Tower Park. A light and sound show tells the story of shot-making at the tower. Today the Phoenix Shot Tower, designated as both a city and national historic landmark, is open to the public.