by Christopher O’Keefe
Why is there a stone castle, complete with a tower and moat, in the heart of a modern US city? Were these high walls the home of royalty or noblemen?
In a sense, yes….and no. In the late 1800s, the nobles of Boston, the wealthy elite, grew concerned about civil unrest among the masses (which would have included my ancestors). Fearing attacks against their families if riots should occur, they raised funds to build this armory. It was designed much like a castle, to withstand a siege, including gun slits along the top from which marksmen could shoot. The tower is not decorative; it is tall enough to allow soldiers at the top to communicate with the state capital via signal flags.
Today, most of the moat is filled in and the building functions as a restaurant and function hall. To the best of my knowledge, the armory never had to withstand a siege, but its cadets, the First Corp of Cadets of Massachusetts, were called out to deal with riots during the 1919 Boston Police Strike.
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