The West Timber Storehouse (Building 37)
The West Timber Storehouse (Building 37) is the oldest standing industrial building in the Watertown Arsenal Historic District. It was built in 1851 for storing and drying lumber used in wooden field and siege gun limbers, carriages and caissons. By the 1890’s iron had replaced wood as the primary material for gun carriages, and building 37 was converted into an iron and brass foundry.
1890-1917 was the height of industrial activity in Building 37. In 1894, it was the only foundry operated by the Ordnance Department for the Army, and as the size of seacoast guns grew, the foundry was expanded to keep up with demand. By 1907 the foundry was producing 2,000,000 lbs. of steel, iron, and brass castings, 45 times the amount it had produced when it opened just two decades earlier.
By 1918 a new, much larger foundry was built on the eastern side of the Arsenal and the building was converted into the Arsenal’s maintenance and repair shop. From World War II onward, the building also housed important support functions for both the research and facilities on the Arsenal campus. It continued in this capacity until the closing of the Army Materials Technical Laboratory in 1995.