The Carriage and Machine Shop (Building 313)
Built in 1862, the Carriage and Machine Shop (Building 313) is one of the oldest buildings in the Watertown Arsenal Historic District. The building’s unique U-shape design served as the central hub for production of both cast iron and wooden gun carriages. The south wing held the carpenter’s shop, which constructed carriages for field artillery using wood from the nearby west timber storehouse (building 37). The north wing held the machine shop, which would process cast iron molds created in the smith shop (building 43) just to its north.
In 1892, the eastern end of the Carriage and Machine Shop was converted into the arsenal’s first powerhouse. A coal-fired steam engine was installed in the eastern end of the building. For the next seven years an iron-belted pulley system mounted on the outside of the buildings provided power to all four buildings in the gun carriage manufacturing complex.
After WWII, Building 313’s machine shops were redirected for use in studying new types of metals, ceramics and other synthetic materials. Research included testing new types of metallic, composite and synthetic armor, which led to the use of Kevlar in body armor and helmets, and the design of specialized armor for presidential limousines and helicopters.